Houston Here's Your Chance to Join Dining Out For Life

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There are two things, without question, that Houston accomplishes incredibly well: fundraising and food.

If you haven’t made plans for visiting a local eatery on Thursday, now you have a reason to do so….the dollars spent will benefit a worthy cause: AIDS Foundation Houston.

Dining Out For Life is hosting its annual event on April 28, and several foodie hot spots have jumped on board to participate. Since 1991, the event has raised awareness and funding for HIV/AIDS testing, prevention and treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost one in eight (12.8 percent) are unaware of their infection. While HIV/AIDS is a serious matter that deserves attention and discussion, that doesn’t mean we have to treat it with the gravity of the Titanic on its last voyage. There’s a way to bring focus to this disease while also having a good time. Mainly: mouthwatering food!

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks are all on the menu. Whichever your favorite might be, there are endless ways to participate. A lineup of 40 local restaurants will bring your favorite meal to the table. They join a list of countless other restaurants from more than 60 cities to make this a widespread event. In total, that brings in approximately 3,000 restaurants with 300,000 people dining out to raise more than $4.2 million a year for outstanding HIV/AIDS organizations in the United States and Canada.

We’re not going to be collecting names at the doors to make sure you all participate, but there are a few big-name celebrities who might be keeping close tabs.

For the fourth year in a row, Project Runway contestant, Project Runway All Stars winner and designer to the gods Mondo Guerra is one of them. He joins the other celebrity stars — Ted Allen, Pam Grier and Daisy Martinez — in helping shed more light on this important event. He’s already lent his creative design talent to the masses – and now he’s lending his name in the sake of supporting a good cause.

After all, it’s a personal one for him. The high-fashion hero captured the hearts of America when he gained the national spotlight to showcase his designs on the show starting in 2010. He also had one of the show’s most memorable moments when he publicly revealed his HIV+ status during a particularly unforgettable challenge. It was a moment that made all reality TV watchers’ hearts collectively skip a beat when he made such a public confession. But it was also a way to raise awareness about an important subject.

When speaking about Dining Out For Life, Guerra has some very encouraging words. “It has brought me to a point where I’m not only able to share my story with so many other people; people are also able to share their story with me. It’s not just about HIV; it’s about overcoming something.” says Guerra.

He encourages others to take advantage of the opportunity to learn, listen and engage – wherever that touchstone of support might be. Guerra found fashion to be an outlet for expression about the importance of education.

For others, though, it might be as simple as dining together. Guerra has found that Dining Out For Life offers a great way for people to begin broaching the subject while still enjoying a delicious meal and good company.

“It’s an opportunity to have a conversation with someone who might not have access to information, and it’s also about community,” says Guerra.

Whether it's sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening or sugar at supper time, it’s all for a worthy cause. Cheers, Mondo. We’ll be lifting a fork in your honor as well as for charity as we take part in some philanthropy…with maybe a slice of cheesecake, too.

For more information about Dining Out For Life and participating restaurants, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/houston.

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