The Red Ribbon Foundation promotes awareness of HIV/AIDS and supports premiere organizations with promising ideas for preventing the spread of HIV. With funds raised through special events, the Foundation awards grants to prevention education programs for at-risk groups, cutting-edge research to eradicate the disease, and assistance programs for those living with HIV/AIDS.
Red Ribbon was started in 1994 by a local Greenwich family, Florence and Karl Suerig, who lost their son Michael to AIDS in 1991. To honor Michael’s life using a medium he loved–music–in the early ’90s the Suerigs held a fundraiser at Greenwich Library featuring a well-known jazz band. To their surprise, the event attracted over 500 people. The success inspired the Suerigs and their friends to start the Red Ribbon Foundation, a group that would come to use music-based “celebrations of life” to raise money for AIDS. With world-class talent like the B52s, Sugar Ray, and Three Dog Night, RRF’s events have raised over $2.5 million for AIDS charities around the world. Boldface names like Michael Kors, Danny Glover, and Gary Dell’Abate (producer “Ba Ba Booey” from the Howard Stern Show), among others, have also hosted successful fundraisers for Red Ribbon through the years.
Local educational events held through the Foundation’s Youth Council and Junior Board promote awareness of AIDS in the “Fair-chester” region to the demographic most at risk for the disease, and most likely to misunderstand its significance.