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Eat out, make a difference

Restaurants offering proceeds to HIV/AIDS research



On Thursday, March 29 the food and beverage industry is once again making a contribution to those living with the impacts of HIV and AIDS.

Human Immunodefiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome just don't get the same kind of attention the diseases got in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but they are still very much a reality for those who have to live with the illnesses.

Seventeen years ago, Dining Out For Life Kicked off in Vancouver. Since then, the event has grown steadily and expanded to include restaurants in Squamish and Whistler.

Money raised through Dining Out For Life is donated to A Loving Spoonful and Friends For Life, two organizations that support those affected. A Loving Spoonful provides free meals to people living with HIV/AIDS and Friends For Life offers massages, yoga classes, Naturopathic and traditional Chinese medicine and care for people who can't leave their homes.

The participating restaurants from White Rock to Whistler will donate 25 per cent of their sales on March 29. Over the course of the 17 last years Dining Out has contributed more than $3 million benefitting people in B.C. struggling with HIV and AIDS.

The two organizations are certainly worthy of support. Can you think of a better way to support a cause?

In the Sea to Sky corridor last year, 12 restaurants participated.

Kypriaki Norte is a supporting restaurant. Norah Redondo from Kypriaki started supporting Dining Out For Life when the initiative debuted. At that time she had a restaurant in North Vancouver.

"I had personal experience with someone who was needing help and I jumped on board at that point in time and I've never looked back," she says. "I think it is a very good cause. I wish more people would be attuned to it."

Norah works with her husband Kike and their son Derek serving up Mediterranean and West Coast cuisine at their location across from the main entrance to the Whistler Conference Centre. They also offer an extensive international wine list.

Kike is no stranger to the restaurant business. He started his cooking career in the kitchen at a hostel in Spain at the age of 14 and by the time he reached the age of 18 he was opening his first eatery in Barcelona. It was called El Museillo, the little museum, and many years later he is making a difference for people in need of help by working with his family to make a contribution for people living with HIV and AIDS.

The Wildflower at the Fairmont Chateau also participated last year and is participating again in 2012.

The participants last year ranged from small independent operators to large restaurants in some of the Whistler hotels and everything in between. Some previous participants are yet to confirm their participation for 2012 and other outlets that didn't participate last year are looking at getting involved this year.

Being part of this fundraising initiative is as easy getting your calendar out right now, finding March 29 and penciling in that you will dine out on that date with a friend or four. Choose lunch or dinner (or both) at one or more of the participating restaurants in Whistler and Squamish.

The event planners are also looking for a restaurant liaison so there's an opportunity for at least one person to get involved in a very big way.

A corporate challenge was offered in the past to ramp up the fun. In previous years prizes have been offered for groups that come together for dinner then submit a photo and caption to the event organizers. The Dining Out For Life team encourages the contestants to use social media to spread the word about their group participation in the fundraiser.

Another avenue for supporting the cause is to make a direct online contribution through the Dining Out For Life donation page.

According to AIDS Vancouver, 350 people tested positive for HIV in 2008, down slightly from the year before. Dating back to 1985 when HIV Vancouver started reporting stats on testing for the illnesses, just over 13,000 AIDS cases have been diagnosed in this province. More than 11,000 of those cases were diagnosed in men.

AIDS Vancouver is also reporting that 3,117 people have died from AIDS/HIV related factors in B.C. between 1983 and 2006.

For more information, and to get in on the fun and the giving by signing up a restaurant to participate, visit