Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Emory to Host World's Largest Collegiate Display of The Aids Memorial Quilt Dec. 1

Emory University will host an 800-panel display of The AIDS Memorial Quilt on World AIDS Day, Monday, Dec. 1. Sponsored by Emory Hillel, the fourth annual "Quilt on the Quad" will take place on the Emory quadrangle from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and will be the largest collegiate display and the second largest in the world that day.

The opening ceremony at 11 a.m. will feature a keynote talk by Emory alumnus and designer Kenneth Cole, chairman of the board of Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. and current chairman of amfAR, the world’s largest HIV/AIDS research organization. His talk will be followed by a public reading of all of the names remembered with a panel on The Quilt. In addition, two members of the Emory community will offer remarks about loved ones lost to AIDS and will announce intentions of creating new panels in their memory.

Service and Social Change Key for Cole

Cole was one of the first to use advertising campaigns to speak out about the issue of AIDS in 1985 and was one of the first board members of amfAR. He also is a founding member of Help USA, the largest provider of housing, jobs and services for the homeless in the United States.

The fall marks the 25th anniversary of Kenneth Cole Productions and the publication of "AWEARNESS: Inspiring Stories About How to Make a Difference," a collection of 86 essays and conversations by individuals who have been inspired to do their part to effect meaningful social change. Earlier this year, Cole launched the AWEARNESS fund, a nonprofit initiative that encourages, empowers and supports acts of service, volunteerism and social change.

HIV/AIDS Awareness Vital for Younger Generations

Hosting the largest display of the Quilt on a college campus is especially relevant today, says Daniel Sperling, an Emory senior and one of the lead organizers of the event.

"Having the Quilt here again really stresses the fact that there needs to be a movement to lower infection rates among the younger generations," says Sperling. "With 38 percent of new infections occurring among the 13-29 age range, our generation is seeing the largest amount of new infections every year, and unfortunately this rate is continuing to rise. Activism and awareness are necessary to stop or at least prevent this epidemic, and hopefully Emory will be able to help in this fight for years to come."

Emory scientists and physicians also are at the forefront of research efforts to develop effective drugs and vaccines against HIV and AIDS. The Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) is an official National Institutes of Health CFAR site. More than 120 faculty throughout Emory are working on some aspect of HIV/AIDS prevention or treatment. Many of the scientists within the Emory Vaccine Center are focused on finding an effective vaccine against HIV, and more than 94 percent of HIV patients in the US on life saving antiviral therapy take a drug developed at Emory University. More information about Emory's programs in HIV/AIDS.

The Quilt as an 'American Treasure'

The NAMES Project Foundation, Inc. is the international curator of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, now headquartered in Atlanta. The foundation was established in 1987 as a non-governmental organization with the mission of preserving, caring for and using The AIDS Memorial Quilt to inspire action, heighten awareness and foster healing in the age of AIDS.

The entire quilt weighs 54 tons and includes more than 47,000 panels dedicated to more than 91,000 individuals. In the past 20 years, more than 18 million people have seen the quilt at displays around the world. In November 2005, the quilt was designated as one of "America's Treasures" and was awarded a "Save America's Treasures" federal grant that has established a conservation and preservation program for it.

For more information about "Quilt on the Quad," contact Michael Rabkin, director of Emory Hillel, at 404-727-2089 or In the event of rain, "Quilt on the Quad" will be held on the fourth floor of the Woodruff P.E. Center. Lead sponsors in addition to Emory Hillel include the Rosalyn & Kenneth Sperling Family Foundation, Emory's Center for AIDS Research, the Office of LGBT Life and the Office of the Dean of Emory Law School.

Emory Hillel is the center for Jewish campus life at Emory. It is a part of Hillels of Georgia, which is an affiliate agency of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and a beneficiary of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Emory Hillel is dedicated to engaging Jewish undergraduate and graduate students in meaningful Jewish experiences through compelling programs in the Emory University community.

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