On March 20th, the Penn State chapter of Keep A Child Alive hosted its 5th annual Kball. The ball itself is a replica of the national organization’s Blackball, which purpose is to raise awareness on the pandemic of HIV/AIDS.
This year, Kball was held at Atherton Hotel, a rather elegant and sophisticated venue. The ball was held in one of the hotel’s ballrooms. Inside of this ballroom, there were crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, round tables covered with pure white table tablecloths, and a decent size dance floor that twinkled under the lights. Guests commented on the beauty of the ballroom as they walked in.
The program started with the executive board at the podium, welcoming everyone to Kball and stating their mission. Their mission is “to realize the end of AIDS for children and families by combating the physical, social and economic impacts of HIV, and engaging the community in this fight against AIDS.”
After the brief introduction, the Vice President of the organization handed the microphone over to the MC’s for the night. The MC’s were Jerrie Johnson, a senior at Penn State, and her partner was Khalif Dobson. These two kept the crowd engaged and energetic through their jokes and introduction of various performers throughout the evening.
There were wonderfully orchestrated performances throughout the night. First, two poets from W.O.R.D.S. pulled at heartstrings with a spoken word. Then, the Afrique Fusion dance group brought everyone back to Africa, the motherland, with their mixture of traditional African dance and music. Finally, two twins named Deme and Desne sang a beautiful, authentic piece that was followed with a standing ovation.
Not only were the performances great, but the food was spectacular. There were three different choices for the main entree, and five different dessert choices. After dinner, the guest of honor was introduced.
Juanita Williams, a woman living openly with AIDS, came to the podium. She debriefed us, saying that she has been in retirement for a few years now, and that she came out of it to speak to us. She explained her story about how she was discriminated against after unknowingly being tested for HIV/AIDS. Ms. Williams stressed the importance of safe sex and getting tested. She concluded by noting how refreshed she felt to see awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS being done by organizations like Keep A Child Alive. Ms. Williams hopes that her grandchildren will be able to live in a world where HIV/AIDS is eradicated.
To lighten the mood after a heavy speech, there was a dance portion with music by Da Bol Jus, “ya girl’s favorite DJ,” and everyone got to dance together. Even Juanita Williams came out on the dance floor and joined us in classic line dances like the electric slide, the cupid shuffle, and the soul train. The guests even showed her how to do some of the modern dances like hit the quan and dab. It was a nice end to the event.
As everyone was leaving, I got the chance to interview Paul Torres, a senior who has been to three of the previous Kballs, to get his perspective on the evening. He said, “each year they get better and better.” The venue changed this year and it was a “big jump from the HUB to the Atherton Hotel.” He spoke on how the ticket prices went up, but how it was certainly worth it because the setting, performers and speaker were amazing. In his exact words: “It was lit.”
After interviewing Paul Torres, I got a chance to interview the event planner, Ololade a.k.a Tomi Omosebi. She is the treasurer of Keep A Child Alive. I asked her if Kball met her expectations, and if she would consider it a success. She answered, “Yes, [it did] because as the circumstances and availability of resources changed, so did my expectations.” In regards to the second question she answered, “Yes I would consider Kball a success, I absolutely enjoyed it. Although it was successful, there is always room for improvement. The executive board of Keep A Child Alive has learned from this experience, and has gained the tools to make an even better event [next year]. We plan to execute those lessons during our planning of the 6th Annual Kball.”
All I have to say is everyone should be on the lookout for Kball 2k17, because according to Tomi Omosebi, it is certain to be bigger and better.