JANET honored by amfAR at New York GalaFebruary 7, 2013
Ms. Maria Davis’ introduction of JANET:
“Good evening. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be up on this stage tonight, doing what I’m about to do. Thank you, Lord!
My name is Maria Davis and I am here tonight—in fact, I’m alive tonight—for one reason: AIDS research.
Many of my friends haven’t been so lucky. I guess I’ve lost about 20 of them to AIDS-related causes. One of them died quite recently, and when I got to the funeral, this young lady looked at me and she just started crying and wailing. Her good friend looked at her and said, “What’s wrong with you?” I walked towards her and I asked her the same question, “What’s wrong?” She looked into my eyes and she said, “They told me you were dead.”
I hear those stories all the time. I guess people just assume that I’ve died by now. Well, as you can see, I’m very much alive. And I’m grateful for every minute God keeps me on this earth.
I was diagnosed with HIV about 18 years ago. Back then I had a modeling career and was an ambitious young music promoter. Full of energy and big dreams. I worked with people like Jay-Z and Missy Elliott and Anthony Hamilton. Then HIV and an AIDS diagnosis put an end to my career and my dreams of hitting the big-time.
I’m alive today because I take powerful antiretroviral drugs. Drugs made possible by the research that amfAR has funded over the past 25, nearly 30 years. Research that you make possible. So, I am so grateful to be here tonight to thank amfAR for the wonderful work that is keeping me and millions of others alive. And thank YOU for supporting that work.
JANET, Maria Davis and Bennah Serfaty
I am also grateful to be here tonight to thank and to honor a remarkable woman who has been a hero of mine ever since she started out in show business. I have been a lifelong fan of hers and an incredibly grateful member of the AIDS community that she’s served with extreme passion and dedication for so long. Tonight, I have the very great privilege of introducing, on behalf of amfAR, an Oscar nominee, music legend and a tireless leader in the fight against AIDS, Janet Jackson.
While you may be aware of Janet’s support of the fight against AIDS, you may not know that throughout her career she’s quietly supported a wide range of social and humanitarian issues. She donated the proceeds from one of her concerts to support an airlift of food and medical supplies for starving Rwandan refugees. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, she joined with other artists to record “We Are the World 25 for Haiti,” which raised millions for earthquake relief efforts. She also generously supports the work of Fresh2o, an organization that builds wells and provides water in impoverished villages across Africa.
Here at home, Janet has helped students meet their educational goals through her Rhythm Nation Scholarship program, and has generously supported organizations such as the Watts Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club of America and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
For many years, though, Janet has been a vocal champion of the fight against AIDS.
In 1997, when she lost several friends to AIDS, she recorded a song, “Together Again,” which helped support amfAR and became one of the biggest selling singles of all time.
As an amfAR Ambassador, she has traveled to the Foundation’s benefit events around the U.S. and in countries such as France, Austria, and Italy. amfAR’s first event in Milan, which Janet chaired in 2009, alone raised more than a million dollars for AIDS research.
Janet was praised for her courageous portrayal in the 2010 movie, “For Colored Girls,” of a young woman struggling to come to terms with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. Obviously, it’s a role I can identify with, and Janet’s work in the film was truly outstanding.
Wherever she goes, Janet speaks out about AIDS in her soft but forceful voice, reminding us that this fight is far from over.
For World AIDS Day last December, she recorded and produced a public service announcement for amfAR – all at her own expense. Also on World AIDS Day, Janet co-authored an opinion piece with amfAR’s Founding Chairman, Dr. Mathilde Krim. The piece urged readers to educate themselves about HIV, to get tested, and to actively participate in creating an AIDS-free generation here in the. U.S.
Wherever she goes, and whether she’s singing, speaking, or tweeting, Janet’s beautiful voice is the voice of compassion, tolerance, humanity, and generosity.
As someone who has benefited so much from the research amfAR has funded, I want to salute you, Janet, for your unwavering support. You are a wonderful friend and ally to all of us who are living each day with HIV. Today I live life to the fullest – as if every day were my last. I live with hope. And I live with gratitude. And I still have big dreams.
Thank you for your part in making sure we are not alone.
It’s now my great honor, on behalf of amfAR, to present this award to Janet Jackson.”
JANET’s comments in acceptance of the award:
“Thank you. I feel like this honor is too much too soon. I consider myself a very private person who feels that the war on AIDS must be made public.
We all know that there are treatments for HIV; but there is no cure. There is great work ahead.
My love and appreciation to amfAR, the doctors, researchers, contributors, volunteers and every person impacted by HIV/AIDS.
And most of all to the One above who makes all things possible and who guides us through this battle.”
Learn more about amfAR at amfAR.org