Fri, 18 Jun 1999 00:54:04 -0700, in rec.arts.tv.soaps.abc
Kathleen Lenkeit wrote:
Today, we will *finally* get to see the beginning
of the eagerly anticipated 1999 Nurses' Ball!
There have been many newcomers to RATSA since
the Nurses' Ball began in 1994, and recently
some folks had asked what the Nurses' Ball is
all about. So, I thought I'd take a few minutes
and write about "the Ball."
In 1994, the idea for the "Day of Compassion"
was born. It is a day for us all to think about,
and have compassion for, people with HIV and
AIDS. The Day of Compassion is June 21, and
all of the soaps are supposed to somehow acknowledge
the AIDS pandemic during their June 21 episodes.
If June 21 is on a weekend, they do it on the
Friday before or the Monday after. Some soaps
did nothing more than have some characters wearing
the red AIDS ribbon, without any explanation.
But, the ABC network has always been good about
acknowledging the Day of Compassion with some
sort of reference to HIV and/or AIDS on all
of their shows, such as the time on AMC when
Stuart visited the grave of his wife, Cindy,
who had died from AIDS. General Hospital has
been incredible with their multi-episode Nurses'
The year of the first Ball, 1994, had Damian
Smith trying to get Lucy as interested in him
as he was in her. They made a bet, with the
"jackpot" being something very serious, indeed.
If Lucy won the bet, Damian would have to turn
over some of his stock in ELQ; but if Damian
won, Lucy would have to sell Damian her 4% of
ELQ, *and* spend one night with Damian!!! Lucy
was, understandably, concerned about the ossibility
of losing this wager, so she decided she had
to bet Damian something that would be impossible
for him to do --- she bet him that he could
not get the very happily married Bobbie Jones
to sleep with him!! He was self-assured (and
smug) enough to be certain he could win. And,
to make sure that he had a good excuse to spend
plenty of time with Bobbie, he offered to underwrite
the Nurses' Ball........
As the story went, each year the nurses at GH
would put on a Ball, as a fundraiser. It was
always a formal event, yet it was fun, too,
because there was always a talent show, featuring
doctors, nurses, and folks from the Port Charles
"society." But, as Bobbie explained to Damian,
the costs of putting on the Ball had become
prohibitive, so the event had been canceled
for so many years in a row that everyone had
pretty much forgotten about it. Now, thanks
to Damian, GH would once again have a Ball,
with the proceeds to benefit AIDS research and
the patients in the GH AIDS Outreach Center.
And, each year since then, we've been blessed
with some truly wonderful and unforgettable
episodes and performances by our beloved actors/characters.
Who could forget Mary Mae and her "Pips" (Justus,
Luke, and Lucky)? Or Steve Hardy and his rendition
of "Casey At the Bat"? No matter how we try,
we cannot forget that *every* year, Lucy ends
up on stage in her underwear!!! :-)
But for many of us, we also cannot forget the
real meaning of the Day of Compassion; to remember
those people affected by HIV and AIDS.
GH did a wonderful storyline on AIDS, which
played out in real time. Stone, Robin's boyfriend,
was unknowingly infected with HIV when he slept
with his previous girlfriend, who injected drugs
with shared needles. In late 1994, Stone came
down with what everyone thought was the flu...
until he found out in early 1995 that he had
GH has done some lame storylines over the years
(haven't *all* soaps?!), but this particular
story was incredibly good. It was honest. It
was realistic. It was educational. It was a
wake-up call for many people.
Our second Nurses' Ball was one of the best
ever. The theme was "Over the Rainbow," and
there was, of course, a ‘Wizard of Oz' aura
to everything. There was even a skit with Emily
as Dorothy, Kevin as the Tin Man, Tony as the
Scarecrow, and Alan as the Cowardly Lion. I
It was during this Ball that Stone revealed
his AIDS status to everyone. Some people were
shocked, horrified, and repulsed. But Stone
found comfort in talking to Lucy's friend (and
co-Chair of the Ball), Jon Hanley. You see,
Jon Hanley was HIV+ so he knew exactly what
Stone was going through, and he was able to
share his experiences with Stone.
What many viewers didn't know was that the actor
who portrayed Jon, Lee Mathis, was HIV+ in real
life. He succumbed to complications from AIDS
on May 1, 1996. It was our love for Lee Mathis,
and our desire to do something in real life
to sort of 'counteract' the dastardly deeds
of the fictitious Katherine Bell on GH, that
led Tante Joan, Razz, and me to start up an
online AIDS fundraiser. TJ made arrangements
with three well-known and highly respected AIDS
charities to track contributions made in memory
of Lee by RATSAfarians. They don't report *who*
had contributed, just total amounts of all contributions
that can be attributed to the generosity of
the great folks of this newsgroup.
Every year when the Nurses' Ball rolls around,
I post blatant pleas for contributions. It seems,
though, that the farther we get away from the
time of the Stone/AIDS storyline, the easier
it is for folks to forget about the real meaning
behind the Day of Compassion, and to only think
about what great fun this years' Ball episodes
will be. (Any bets on how Lucy will end up in
her underwear AGAIN?!?)
Recently, however, I've learned of some folks
who have found out that they are HIV+, and it's
all come rushing back to me. And that's why,
once again, I am making a blatant plea for donations.
There have been great strides made in HIV/AIDS
research since Stone found out that he had AIDS.
Look at Robin, for example she's on the "triple
drug cocktail" which suppresses the virus in
her system to such a low level that it's virtually
undetectable. Fortunately, this is available
in real life. And, the reason that it's available
is, simply, because of the generosity of individuals
and corporations who have made donations to
We can't stop now. We can't stop until there
is a *cure,* or at least a significant enough
treatment that those who are infected will know
that they will not die from complications of
We also need to show compassion for those already
infected. Many folks lose their jobs, and their
homes, not to mention their self respect when
they are shunned by their families.
So, on the 1999 Day of Compassion, in honor
of the GH Nurses' Ball and in memory of Lee
Mathis (Jon Hanley on GH), here's my plea: Open
up your hearts and your wallets, and send a
donation to one (or more) of the following charities:
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA);
the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR);
and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
Broadway Cares is run by Actors' Equity, and
for direct services to PWAs (Persons with HIV+
or AIDS) the family of Lee Mathis has requested
that gifts be directed to Broadway Cares/Equity
Fights AIDS, the New York City-based AIDS charity.
(As some of you may know, Lee spent most of
his career in the theater as a dancer, first
as a "gypsy," and later in some featured roles.)
Housing becomes a serious problem for PWAs,
especially for those unable to work and evicted
from their homes. Recognizing the need for a
residential alternative to hospice care (reserved
for those who are near the end of their lives),
the Actors' Fund, in cooperation with BC/EFA,
has secured several floors in the Aurora apartment
complex in NYC. Your donation to BC/EFA will
help to continue to provide housing to PWAs.
The American Foundation for AIDS Research funds
biomedical and clinical research dedicated to
finding a cure for AIDS. It is the nation's
leading nonprofit organization dedicated to
the support of AIDS research, AIDS prevention,
and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public
policy. Your donation to AmFAR will help to
continue their very important work.
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
is the leading U.S. national nonprofit organization
dedicated to identifying, funding and conducting
basic pediatric HIV/AIDS research. On GH, Jon
Hanley volunteered at the Bradley Ward House,
where babies with HIV and AIDS were the recipients
of his loving care. You can help real children
who live with HIV and AIDS in real life by making
a donation to EGPAF.
Your gift will be tax deductible to the full
extent allowed by law. Whichever charity you
choose, Lee's family will be notified of every
gift made in Lee's memory, and we will provide
you with periodic updates on totals raised to
date. Remember, unlike at the fictitious Nurses'Ball,
these dollars count! Please don't think that
if you only have $1 or $5 to spare that it wouldn't
be "worth it," or that it "wouldn't matter."
You're wrong. Each and every dollar counts,
and each and every dollar is important. Someday
there will be a cure, or at least a significant
treatment, for AIDS. Your donation will help.
Show your compassion. Please be generous.
Thank you. Please make your check payable to
the charity of your choice, and write the words
"in memory of Lee Mathis/RATSA" in the "memo,"
or lower left hand, portion of the check. Here
are the addresses for the Lee Mathis Campaign
Attn: Skip Mooney, Director of Development
165 West 46th Street, #1300
New York, NY 10036
Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR)
120 Wall Street, Thirteenth Floor
New York, NY 10005
Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
2950 31st Street, #125
Santa Monica, CA 90405
three charities we have linked with are set
up to track RATSA gifts, but the important thing
is, as always, to give. If you have a local
program you wish to support, you can do so in
Lee's name, and notify one of us. We won't be
able to track dollar amounts, but we can report
that "Gifts in Lee's name were also sent to
the following AIDS programs..."
If you have any questions at all, please feel
free to contact any one of us.
Kathleen Lenkeit email@example.com
Tante Joan firstname.lastname@example.org
Razzleberry Peel email@example.com
In Honor and Memory of Tony Bruno 05/23/56-09/29/94