The streets of New York were lit up on Tuesday night with several stars including Alicia Keys, Jack Antanoff and more who all came out to support MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation at their inspirational gala inside Guastavino’s in New York City.
Celebrating their 20th year, the event recognized the foundation’s two decades of campaigning around HIV and sexual/reproductive health and rights, and empowering young people in the global fight to end HIV.
“Twenty years ago, MTV Staying Alive stood up and said, we will protect the next generation by investing in them; we will give them the power to use their voices, their experiences; to influence their own universes,” said organization founder and executive director Georgina Arnold.
Among those spotlighted at the event were MTV Staying Alive grantees Tyler Spencer and Shirley Oruco. Spencer founded the Grassroots Project, a Washington, D.C. based organization that uses sports as a way to teach children about HIV. Oruco, who is from Nairobi, Kenya, founded Partners in Action, an organization that works to empower young people to make better, safer choices by educating them about all facets of their sexual health. Both grantees exemplify the organization’s work in providing funding to promising young activists working to make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Alicia, who has been a huge HIV and AIDS activist by being the co-founder and Global ambassador of Keep a Child Alive, which provides medicine, orphan care, and social support to families with HIV and AIDS in Africa and India, shared with guests while on stage that her own AIDS activism was inspired by a trip she took to South Africa on behalf of MTV Staying Alive in 2002.
“That trip to Cape Town literally changed my life!,” she shared. “It was my first big important trip to Africa and the first time I was confronted with the scope of the AIDS pandemic, and the young faces and voices in the fight against it. I was truly and profoundly affected. It totally changed the course of my life in the most important and powerful way.”
Auctioneer Harry Santa-Olalla got the fundraising off to an energetic start, shattering the foundation’s $100,000 goal for the evening, amidst jokes and good humored-jabs. Among the evening’s experiential opportunities up for grabs, the MTV ‘Golden Ticket’ VIP Package including tickets to both the MTV VMAs and MTV Movie & TV Awards, fetched the highest bid, selling for a cool $50,000.
The show ended with a performance by Bleachers frontman Jack Antanoff who played a four-song acoustic set that included a fan favorite track called “I Wanna Get Better”.
For more information on MTV's Staying Alive Foundation, click here.