This year I was offered the opportunity to be a part of the media covering St. Paul's huge annual fundraiser – Brilliant! It all began with an 8Q interview for Metro-Living-Zine with the one and only Dean Thullner. When you're first and only connection (other than a brief introduction in the audience at an event) is through email and Social Media, it's not as easy to get to know someone. No worries, from that moment on we seemed to keep running into each other at event after event.
As an interviewer, I was strongly drawn to his story of receiving an devastating AIDS diagnosis along with the declaration he would not live long. Fortunately that prophesy proved premature as new treatments for AIDS were made available. It is a testament to his spirit that he has chosen to commit many, many hours of his life each year to giving back by running numerous fund-raising events.
The last time I spoke with Thullner – before Christmas – he mentioned a hush-hush new event he was developing that would run in February. Now that the cat is out of the bag, it's perfect timing to pursue a new interview so I can share all the exciting details. RED:A celebration of colour, couture,community, and caring, is due to hit the stage at the Commodore Ballroom on February 20th. More information and how to purchase tickets can be found at www.REDVancouver.ca. I have also included a press release at the bottom.
Thullner and I still need to have that one-on-one conversation over a cuppa to get to know each other better, as well as a in depth interview where I can hear the full story of his unique journey. I am sure that will happen soon.
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What is your current career(s) – paid and unpaid?
My husband David Veljacic & I own and operate Volume Studio – hair salon at 1209 Bute St. in the heart of the Davie Village – soon to be Jim Diva Plaza. I also run a non profit events company under the same name, Volume Studio. This company is active in raising funds for mental health, addiction, HIV and AIDS. Our focus is bringing communities together to support one another.
Can you share an interesting thing (or two) about your journey to reach this moment?
As a long time survivor of HIV/AIDS, I have had tremendous support from the community. I started this company to thank St. Paul's Hospital for all they did for me, my friends and the gay community as we struggled to deal with this devastating pandemic. Through this learning process, I now have the opportunity to share my skills and help other foundations and societies reach their goals in raising funds, awareness and removing stigmas.
What 3 things would you like people to know about you to give them a sense of who you really are?
- I love ice cream.
- Did I mention I love ice-cream
- Oh, I almost forgot, I love ice cream
Highest moment so far?
Hearing that if I took three pills a day, I could live my life expectancy – OR – marrying my husband David. It's a toss up really.
What are you working on right now? In the next 6 months?
RED - "A Positive Day" is my current passion. The gay community is doing relatively well in regards to survival and support with HIV and AIDS, however there are many individuals in marginalized communities who still suffer terribly. In recent years, the numbers have escalated in the Downtown Eastside, especially amongst Aboriginal women, women on the street in general, the homeless and the mentally ill.
I have asked the Gay community, who have had tremendous support, to give back in turn to a challenged community that is in need of help. This fashion event will follow the life of a gay male and a straight female – both HIV Positive – throughout their "Positive day.” The show will feature 60 plus selected cast members and models portraying the community and their friends! It will be a fun, sexy experience and will end in a night of dancing to one of Vancouver's finest DJ's.
Who and/or what inspires you?Helping out - giving back!
How do you personally define success?
Going to bed at night knowing I did my best.
“Water seeks it's own level.”
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RED is not only the talk in politics this month – it is also the talk of the HIV/AIDS community as Positive Living BC announces, RED … A Positive Day! A celebration of colour, community, couture & caring
Vancouver, BC, February 20th, 2016 –An all-star cast of local dancers, models, designers, fashion retailers, hair stylists, and make-up artists will create fun and drama on the runway to support the work of Positive Living BC and its 5,700 HIV-positive members across BC…All in front of an expected sold-out crowd at the historic, grand Commodore Ballroom(868 Granville Street).
RED A celebration of colour, community, couture & caring, will take guests on a 90-minute theatrical journey through the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. The inaugural event involves over 200 volunteer artists, entertainers and technicians donating their time and talent to benefit Positive Living BC’s campaign to create a new home for its members’ services, “Room to THRIVE!”
“Twenty years ago, people were dying from AIDS… we lost many of the most artistic, creative, passionate people in our community,” said the show’s producer, Dean Thullner. For Thullner, the event is a dramatic homage to them, as well as “a reminder that all of us are still needed and affected in this cause,” says Thullner. “As a gay man living with HIV I’ve had a lot of support dealing with my illness from my community and this is an opportunity for Vancouver’s finest creative community to pay some of that forward and remind aboriginal women and men and so many others struggling with HIV that we are still a community that cares and understands the need for support!”
“RED is going to re-energize our community in ways we haven’t seen in decades,” says Valerie Nicholson, Chair of the Positive Living BC Board. “Already, we’re excited to see so many dedicated, talented and giving volunteers putting on this extravagant show to help our members THRIVE.”
The impact of living with HIV is often forgotten now that so many are living longer with the disease, but as Thullner’s own life illustrates, the journey is not an easy one. “There are times I needed critical support, and I want to make sure that support is there for everyone who needs it.”
To purchase general admission tickets for RED! ($60 in advance; VIP Tables of 6 for $600), see a full list of RED talent, or for more information about the event, please visit www.REDVancouver.ca.
For more information contact: Media Inquiries: Sponsorship Inquiries:
firstname.lastname@example.org Adam Reibin Dena Ellery
Producer Director of Communications Director of Development
778.996.5678 Positive Living Society Positive Living Society