February 22, 2013 by Helen Nowotnik
The Drexel University College of Medicine raised $9,775 at the 20th annual Pediatric AIDS Benefit Concert Feb. 16 in the Main Building. Including the Nov. 30 spaghetti dinner, the silent auctions from both events, and special donations, the PABC 2013 Committee raised just over $27,454 for the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Program at St. Christopher’s Children’s Hospital.
Food donated from 24 restaurants in the area was served before the three-hour concert, which included talents from DUCoM and other Drexel departments. Roughly 450 people attended the event. A silent auction also took place on the second tier of the main lobby throughout the event.
“Planning PABC 2013 was a massive undertaking involving the combined effort of 10 second-year College of Medicine students, Barbara Lasher and Dr. Dennis Novack of the Office of Medical Education, and innumerable student and staff volunteers,” Andrew Trontis, co-chair of the PABC 2013 Committee and second-year medical student at DUCoM, wrote in an email.
Planning for the event started as early as June 2012, when the committee booked the Main Auditorium. The group started meeting every other week in August to plan the concert and the spaghetti dinner, which raised the initial funds needed to put on the benefit concert.
“It was a long seven-month journey from beginning to end but was more than worthwhile,” Star Tiko, co-chair of the PABC 2013 Committee and second-year medical student at DUCoM, wrote in an email.
The concert, hosted for the third straight year by third-year medical student Garrett Keim, had 13 talent acts ranging from singing to dancing to comedy. The performers auditioned in January for a spot in the program.
Matt Diamond, a second-year medical student and member of the entertainment committee, said, “The concert went extremely well, with a great mix of acts and a larger audience than last year.”
Some of the popular acts of the night included Dr. Curtis Cummings of the Drexel School of Public Health, who sang an array of “Funny Medical Songs”; Pierce Johnson and Darius Farzad, who performed the original songs “Faith and an Open Mind” and “Old Man’s Eyes,” as well as a cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”; and Vanessa Prokuski’s music video “Doc,” which can be viewed on the YouTube channel “nonsequiturify.”
Before intermission, Dr. Daniel Conway from the Dorothy Mann Center for Pediatric and Adolescent HIV at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children expressed his gratitude for the event.
“I want to just extend on behalf of the Dorothy Mann Center and St. Christopher’s Hospital our most heartfelt thanks for all your effort, for the students and faculty who put this together and everyone who comes and gives up their time and abilities and resources to this event. This event permits us to fill in many of the gaps that afflict the lives of our patients. And we’re very, very grateful,” Conway said.
According to the event program, the HIV/AIDS program at St. Christopher’s Hospital is the largest of its kind in the tri-state area and provides comprehensive care for hundreds of HIV-infected children and their families. Included in this specialized HIV care are social services, well-child care and substance-abuse counseling.
The funds raised by the benefit concert will help to finance the services of a dietician and child-life specialist for the program. The donations will also offer the children the opportunity to attend a summer camp, which many of them would be unable to experience otherwise. Additionally, the funds raised will provide families affected by the illness with financial support for emergency funds needed for housing, transportation and other expenses.
“As a medical student, it can be very easy to get wrapped up in your studies, work and exams, but events like these are a reminder that we have dedicated our lives to helping others, and that doesn’t have to wait until the letters M.D. follow after our names. We can make a difference now,” Tiko wrote.
In addition to the money raised by the spaghetti dinner, silent auctions and admission for the concert, people also made special contributions to the PABC, including donations of $1,000 and over from the Office of the President, Conway, the DUCoM dean’s office, the Office of the Provost and professor Brian Wigdahl.
“PABC 2013 was a blast. For all of our hard work, I could not have imagined a more successful event, both for the attendees as well as for the Dorothy Mann Center at St. Christopher’s Hospital,” Trontis wrote.