Here's to 2013!

Thu. December 20, 2012 12:00 AM
by Terrence Chappell

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2012 In Review: kick-ass parties and people, lasting, new friendships, exciting endeavors, controversial HuffPost articles, late night outs, White Castle love affairs, and that much more.

And here's to continuing the champagne celebrations into 2013!

Lambda Legal hosted its 2nd annual Holidays on Ice soiree at Downtown Bar & Lounge on Dec. 6. The growing LGBT happy hour featured specialty Smirnoff Vodka cocktails, light eats by Chicago Gourmet to You, and a customized quesadilla station. Guests were also updated about Lambda Legal's legislative progress as well as HIV/AIDS advocacy for the LGBT community. The event attracted a supportive network of lawyers, civic leaders, and other advocacy professionals. Some lucky guests won prizes that included an prize, gift certificates from local restaurants: Osteria Via Stato, Nacional 27, and a staycation courtesy of Hilton.

Quality begets quality at the Fred Says,, kick-off reception at Scarlet on Dec. 8. Fred Says' founder and director Dr. Robert Garofalo, Zach Stafford, David Hackett and other activists welcomed guests to an exclusive inside look into the newly minted non-profit, housed in the Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. According to the organization's website, Fred Says raises money for HIV+ teens in need of financial support for all costs associated with HIV diagnosis and treatment, with Lurie Children's Hospital being the current primary benefactor.

Garofalo streamed a touching documentary that explained the inspiration behind Fred Says, his personal story, and how Fred Says will accomplish its mission. Garofalo remembers his feelings of defeat and loneliness when he was diagnosed HIV +.

"With this HIV diagnosis came this sense of shame. I worked my entire life to teach people how to overcome an HIV positive diagnosis, yet I was trying to overcome it myself. It was a pretty dark period of my life. I was feeling very defeated and alone. I was in a bad place," said Garofalo.

Garofalo went on to share that he thanks his pet dog, for which the non-profit is named after and inspired by, for saving his life.

"This puppy changed everything. I was struggling to take care of myself and this puppy needed me to take care of him. He grounded me. He brought me back to life. I got my spirit back. I credit him for bringing peace and joy back to my life, said Garofalo.

Congrats to Garofalo on his awesome, new nonprofit, his adorable little puppy, and for soldering on with his life while giving back.

See ya next year!