So many in our community have stood by Triad Health Project (THP) through thick and thin. Begun in the earliest days of the epidemic, THP was organized by a group of friends committed to caring for loved ones dying from AIDS. The group grew in size and scope, able to persevere only because of others who became donors, volunteers, and friends. Together, THP and its supporters have saved lives and educated the public, and even as we find hope in the vast changes occurring in HIV/AIDS treatment, the THP family continues its mission.
Allen Broach and Bob Allen have been part of THP’s life-saving work for decades. With his background in advertising, particularly with the furnishing and textile industries, Allen took the lead with marketing in the early days of THP, and also served on the Board of Directors for several terms. He fondly recalls preparing and serving lunches at Higher Ground for many years. In 1990, when THP began hosting its Dining for Friends (DFF) signature fundraising event, Allen collaborated with friends to stage themed house parties. Bob and Allen began hosting DFF parties together twenty years ago and were part of the volunteer team that organized and ran THP’s “Designers Care” furniture sale from 2008-2011. Designers Care raised thousands of dollars for THP with a pop up furniture store retailing donated pieces from the High Point furniture market. The event required hundreds of volunteer hours each year, and Allen laughingly recalls the annual scramble to find trucks for transporting, a space large enough for storage, and a prime location for sale day.
Bob and Allen have also been instrumental in raising funds for THP through their participation in Diving for Life (DFL) Scuba Jamborees. DFL is a not for profit organization that sponsors The International Gay and Lesbian Scuba Jamboree. Since 1992, DFL has held 27 Scuba diving jamborees with hundreds of participants in 14 countries. For the Jamboree, DFL books a dedicated resort for a life affirming week of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Transsexual (GLBTT) diving, entertainment and camaraderie. All proceeds from the Jamboree are donated to charitable organizations that support the health concerns of the LGBTQ community. Funds are distributed to local health-related charities selected by participating scuba clubs in those communities. The amount for each community is based on the number of local club members participating in the Jamboree. Thanks to DFL Jamborees, GLBTT scuba divers from around the globe have helped to raise nearly 2 million dollars for people living with HIV/AIDS and other lesbian and gay health concerns.
Bob and Allen are leaders with the Sea Squirts, a group of LGBTQ men and women who love scuba diving. The group got together about 10 years ago when many of them met in Cozumel for their first adventure with DFL. Today Sea Squirts is made up of divers primarily from the Triad, but also has several members from other parts of the U.S. and even a member who hails from Europe. Allen describes his experience with Sea Squirts, saying “It is awesome that we can join together for a super time with like-minded divers from around the world, but also that we are able to give back to ASOs [AIDS service organizations] from around the country.” Over their years of participating in DFL events, Sea Squirts has raised $30,941 and has donated a total of $24,295 to Triad Health Project, including their generous gift this fall of $2,697. We salute Bob, Allen and all the members of Sea Squirts for sharing their passion for diving and for life with people in the Triad whose lives are impacted by HIV/AIDS.