Kiehl’s LifeRide Sponsors a Display of The AIDS Memorial Quilt in NYC
On August 11, at the end of their 1500-mile, 11-day odyssey across America, the motorcyclists participating in the fifth annual Kiehl’s LifeRide for amfAR roared onto a ferry taking them to New York City’s Governors Island for a dedication ceremony for The AIDS Memorial Quilt. The two-day long display, presented as a gift from Kiehl’s, marked the first large-scale exhibit of The Quilt in New York City in over a decade. The event also marked the end of this year’s LifeRide, which raised over $170,000 for amfAR’s lifesaving research.
“It is our great honor to bring The AIDS Memorial Quilt to share with New York,” said Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehl's USA. “Until we find a cure, we can remember those we've lost, and how far we've come." In addition to Salgardo, this year’s LifeRiders included celebrities Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Gilles Marini, Tyson Beckford, Jesse Lee Soffer, Vanessa Marcil, Katee Sackhoff, Teddy Sears, Scott Niemeyer, Jay Ellis, Conrad Leach, Grant Reynolds, and World Cup Rugby champion Ben Cohen.
Standing on a platform, surrounded by glistening motorcycles and overlooking a large field covered by 300 Quilt panels, Julie Rhoad, executive director of the NAMES Project—The Quilt’s international caretaker—pointed out one lone panel lying separate from the rest. She said that the panel, which read “The Last Panel,” arrived at their offices in 1988 with a note: “I hope this panel will find a permanent place.” “We’ve been holding onto it for 26 years as a stark reminder of what we’re fighting to achieve,” said Rhoad. “And I believe amfAR, with their choices for funding and support, will get us there.”
She added that when The Quilt was first displayed in Washington, D.C., in 1987, it consisted of 48 panels. Today, it contains more than 48,000 panels dedicated to more than 94,000 individuals. If it was displayed in its entirety, it would stretch over 50 miles.
Kevin Robert Frost, CEO of amfAR, spoke about the first time he saw the quilt over 20 years ago. “Suddenly I understood that what I was looking at wasn’t fabric, it wasn’t beautiful quilt work. I was looking at the lives of people, people who lost their lives unnecessarily to this epidemic,” he said. “My work at amfAR for the last 20 years has been about research and understanding how to finally bring the epidemic to an end, so we can put that final panel in place.”
During the ceremony, acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker presented a plaque to Salgardo and Kiehl’s on behalf of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Ousman Laast, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s regional assistant, and Sydney Renwick, Senator Charles Schumer’s director of outreach, both made remarks welcoming The Quilt and the Kiehl’s LifeRide to NYC. The event concluded with the LifeRiders and other representatives from amfAR and Kiehl’s reading the names of those honored by The Quilt as the attendees walked among the panels.
View images from the event below.