Two Marys who have passionately devoted years to the LGBTQ community and causes were honored as heroes at the 2018 Red Ribbon Ball.
On an April 21 night filled "With a Touch of Magic," Mary Ellen McNally and Mary Lou Makepeace were saluted for "dedicating their lives to making Colorado Springs a better place for everyone," said Chris Robertson of Colorado Health Network.
Harry Potter characters and magicians were much in evidence as the festive celebration returned to Cheyenne Mountain Resort, site of the first Red Ribbon Ball 26 years ago. It's the Southern Colorado AIDS Project's signature fundraiser, regularly bringing in $50,000 annually for HIV services and programs in southern Colorado.
There are exciting changes as they are transitioning from an AIDS organization to a medical organization focusing on prevention, said Colorado AIDS Project's Colorado Health Network CEO Darrell Vigil.
It was evident at the Red Ribbon Ball where instead of mourning those lost to AIDS there were positive hopes of stopping it before it starts. Those steps forward are because of the PrEP program where those at high risk for HIV receive regular pre-exposure prophylaxis medications to lower the chances of becoming infected through sex or injection drug use, Vigil said.
The enthusiastic guests and the two Marys honored joined Vigil in celebrating why he said he hopes he loses his job.
McNally, who was co-chair of the annual fundraiser and is president SCAP Regional Council, was saluted: "As a result of the blatant discrimination she encountered for having a daughter with developmental disabilities and a gay son, she heard the call to make a difference in the community.
That became "a decades long commitment to promoting progress and fighting discrimination through volunteering at local area nonprofit organizations."
McNally was politically active as well, serving on Colorado Springs City Council where she met Makepeace in 1985 when Makepeace was appointed to the council before serving two terms as the city's first female mayor. Makepeace's dedication to HIV/AIDS issues and those impacted included serving as Executive Director of The Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado and interim director of Inside/Out Youth Services.
The two women are "Heroes, with a Touch of Magic," speakers said, noting that because of what people like this pair have done, AIDS no longer carries the stigma it once did.