Youth activist Jordan Mitzel, who has raised thousands of dollars for the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network’s Charlotte AIDS Walk, speaks after receiving an Inspiration Award. Network President Debbie Warren, an Inspiration Award recipient in 2011, stands in the background.
Photo courtesy Dale Pierce

Nearly 350 people attended a special evening of music, awards and fundraising in early November at Rosedale ID’s annual Evening of Hope and Inspiration. The event, featuring gospel singers Christy Sutherland and Lynda Randle also featured their annual Inspiration Awards presented to radio hosts Matt Harris and Ramona Holloway and youth activist Jordan Mitzel.

Dale Pierce, Rosedale’s practice manager and Ryan White Program director, said the event was a success. Proceeds will benefit their food pantry, named in honor of Jeanne White Ginder, the mother of 1980s AIDS victim Ryan White. Ginder was also present at the event.

“We took donations prior and through sponsorships, we had a lot of local businesses…step up,” Pierce said of the support. “We’re looking at, after expenses, $5,000-$6,000. It doesn’t sound like a lot in the big scheme of some of the larger fundraisers in town, but helping people with $30 or $35 gift cards can have a huge impact on people who might not have food for the holidays.”

Pierce said the event also served as a way to raise awareness. The diversity of the audience was astonishing, he said. Many people, he said, had not heard of Ginder or her son.

“We got a lot of really good responses hearing feedback from people who had never heard Jeanne speak, which I thought was really important for people who might not have known who Ryan was or the significance of the Ryan White Program or the effect his mom had on the movement,” Pierce said. “It really opened this generation’s eyes to what people really went through during the early stages of the fight.”

Pierce said education and awareness are becoming increasing important as time slowly moves further and further away from the challenges of the 1980s AIDS Crisis.

“We are starting to see a rise in cases of younger gay males coming in to Rosedale and finding they are HIV-positive,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like it has the same weight that it did back then.”

He added, “The great thing is that it is manageable and there are great treatments and people are living longer…but the fact is that there still is no cure and people are still dying. It does alter your lifestyle.”

Rosedale, a medical clinic which offers full treatment and care to those with HIV, has begun to offer free testing every Tuesday at their Huntersville offices. Soon, he said, they might expand their free testing. Several attendees at their fundraiser asked if Rosedale could do testing events at their churches or other organizations. Others also learned about different ways they could be involved.

“We did a good job this year of … driving home the awareness factor and getting people more educated,” he said. “Several people talked to me…and didn’t know there was a Charlotte AIDS Walk. They wanted to know when it was and how to get involved. There were people who came just for the music portion of the event and then signed up to volunteer with us.”

You can learn more about Rosedale ID, their services and their food pantry at : :

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.