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Dining Out, Fighting AIDS

On Tuesday, April 26, all you will need to do your part in helping end the AIDS epidemic is your fork, knife and an appetite.

AIDS Community Services of Western New York will be hosting their ninth year of “Dining Out For Life,” which brings local restaurants on board to raise money to help them continue to provide multiple services and programs to families coping with AIDS/HIV in WNY.  Ninety restaurants in the region will be participating by donating at least 25% of their profits that day.  

“If you go out to dinner, all you have to donate is your appetite,” said public relations representative Mary Ann Lauricella. “It won’t cost you any more to go out. The restaurants are the ones who make the donation of at least 25% of food sales that day.”

Since ACS of WNY began hosting this event in 2003, they have made great progress in expanding it every year.  The first year, 27 restaurants participated and raised $22,069.  Last year, they raised $89,000, which brought the total to over $7 million dollars raised since 2003.  Each restaurant donates at least 25% of profits, and some will donate as much as 50% or more.

This year, some new locations and new faces will be joining the cause. Not only will there be new restaurants participating, but the event also has a new chairman, local restaurant owner Tom Lombardo.  He and his wife, Donna, are the owners of Ristorante Lombardo, located on Hertel Avenue.  According to Lauricella, Lombardo has already done a lot for hospice and is well-known for his charity work in the area, and is now volunteering as a leader in this event.
“This event would not exist without the generosity of the restaurants–the owners, the waiters,” said Lauricella. “From the restaurants’ point of view, it’s a great opportunity for them as well. It’s producing some new diners for the restaurants.  More and more in recent years, people are going out in groups.  It’s groups going out for a good cause.”

There will also be several prizes given away to those who win any of
the raffles taking place during the event.  According to Lauricella,
one doesn’t have to pay extra to get into the raffle, but can simply
sign up while dining and automatically be entered into the drawing,
which will take place on May 12. The following prizes will be available
to win:

  • One complimentary pizza a week for a year from Just Pizza–Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo location 

  • Grand
    Jacuzzi Package at Salvatore’s Grand Hotel and Russell’s Steaks, Chops
    & More: King Jacuzzi Guest Room with dinner for two from the “Dining
    for Two” menu and breakfast from the “Good Morning Breakfast Buffet.”

  • Private
    movie showing at the Riviera Theatre for you and 20 of your closest
    friends! This unique movie experience includes popcorn, goodies and soft

  • “Getaway from Everyday” Package at Seneca Niagara
    Casino & Hotel with one complimentary overnight stay and a $150
    credit for use in any of the Casino’s fine dining restaurants. 

 There will also be volunteer opportunities for those looking to go the extra mile.  Each of the restaurants participating will have two volunteer “ambassadors” present.  They will be responsible for welcoming people, thanking them for dining and helping to raise awareness about the cause itself.

The major emphasis of this event and the work of ACS of WNY is prevention education.  There are an estimated 40,000 people who are newly diagnosed with HIV in the United States every year, and over half are 25 years or younger.  In our region, ACS offers several services and programs to the community.

“They do a tremendous amount of prevention education,” said Lauricella. “There’s free, confidential HIV testing and an AIDS information line.  They also work with the schools in offering curriculum to teachers who would be teaching this in conjunction with health class.”  Their professional staff, patients and volunteers also collaborated with WNED-TV to create “Dangerous Silence,” a 28-minue documentary that uncovers the myth of AIDS as a disease affecting “other people” and the reality of the disease in WNY. 

Those who cannot make it out to eat or volunteer on that evening, but would like to make a contribution can simply make a donation to ACS of WNY by visiting their website and clicking “donate to ACS” or mailing a check to the following address:

Dining Out For Life
AIDS Community Services of WNY
206 South Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14201

For a full list of participating restaurants and more information about the event, visit the Dining Out For Life in WNY website or check out the Facebook page.

Photo: Tom and Donna Lombardo


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