BRAVO marks its tenth year
BRAVO marks its tenth year with surprise dinners
Columbus--The Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization began a celebration of its impending tenth anniversary with their Guess Who�s Coming to Dinner fundraiser on February 25.
A reception was held from 6 to 8 pm at the Confluence Park Restaurant featuring a cash bar, light hors d�oeuvres, a silent auction and presentation of two community service awards.
After the reception, many guests moved on to various homes in Columbus for dinner. The conceit of the fundraiser is that nobody knows where they will end up for dinner and with whom. Seven homes hosted the dinner parties this year, the event�s fifth.
The reception, which drew a crowd of over 100, was emceed by one of Columbus�s preeminent drag performers, Paige Passion, and by WCMH Channel 4 news anchor Colleen Marshall, a longtime ally of the LGBT community.
Passion became involved with BRAVO after she lost her good friend and fellow drag queen Brazon, who was murdered in 2002. �I am great friends with Gloria [McCauley, BRAVO executive director] and Chris [Cozad, board president] and we do a lot of work together. They were there for us when we lost Brazon and Vivi Velure and I have done a lot of work with them throughout the years.�
Passion hoped that the evening�s fundraiser would not only generate money for the organization�s work, but that it would also �raise awareness about their work.�
�We need to realize we are victims and that help is out there,� Passion said.
Frank Barnhart, a leader in the theatrical community of Columbus who is on the board of BRAVO, also hoped that the evening would help the group �gain more visibility.�
Cozad welcomed the guests, saying, �We have some amazing meals planned, we have some amazing parties planned. This is a shameless fundraiser, and if you want to go to dinner at a particular place with a particular person, open up your checkbook and we can talk.�
Bill Hedrick, also on the board, presented the first community service award of the evening to Marya Kolman, a lawyer and volunteer for BRAVO.
Kolman was recognized for her years of volunteering with BRAVO and her work in representing victims of violence. Kolman, who was out of town on business, sent a statement of gratitude to the audience through Willa Young.
�I am even more grateful for this award,� read Young on behalf of Kolman, �because I have such respect and admiration for BRAVO as an organization.�
McCauley presented the second service award to Columbus Police Detective Wes Johnson.
�He has been doing fabulous things for us for fifteen years,� McCauley said, �and I can�t say enough good things about this man.�
In accepting the award for his work in truly giving due process to victims of hate crime, Johnson said, �It is such a pleasure to work with BRAVO.� He urged the audience to �continue fighting, continue reporting, continue following things through the end.�
The audience was moved when McCauley brought to the front Dean Malone, a Columbus artist who was beaten to within an inch of his life last year because he was gay.
�You made me feel not so alone,� he said of BRAVO�s support. �They have continued to be uplifting to me in my condition.�
�He has been through hell�s wringer this past year,� McCauley said. �He has made some incredible steps in his recovery.�
�I want to honor that in you,� McCauley said to Malone, �and your stubbornness has stood you in good stead.�
Marshall said that even though the evening was about having fun, �we need to remember why we are here.�
Referring to Malone, she added, �He was beaten because of who he is. You are a survivor and we are grateful to God that you are here with us tonight.�
A work of art donated by Malone was auctioned off during the evening�s presentation.
A 1986 Jaguar XJ6, donated by David Worthington of HER Real Living realtors, was on hand at the venue. BRAVO is selling raffle tickets through this spring and the winner of this extravagant car will be announced on Pride weekend.