Metro Weekly

Cherry Fund raises largest cash haul in recent years

Charity dance party will award $17,000 to organizations benefitting LGBT youth and HIV/AIDS services

Cherry Main Event / File photo Photo by Ward Morrison

Cherry Main Event / File photo
Photo by Ward Morrison

2015 marked another successful year for the Cherry Fund. The not-for-profit, all-volunteer organization has raised a record amount from its charity dance events.

In total, it will award $17,000 to six LGBT youth and HIV/AIDS service organizations at an upcoming reception. That figure far surpasses amounts raised in recent years.

The awards reception, to be held at Cobalt on July 15, is open to the public and will feature hors d’oeuvres and an open bar, courtesy of sponsor Absolut Vodka.

The awards that will be given are as follows:

  • INOVA Juniper HIV/AIDS Services will take home the largest award, totaling $5,000.
  • The Capital Pride Alliance and The DC Center will both be awarded $3,500.
  • The Trevor Project will take home $2,500.
  • Another $1,500 going to the Wanda Alston House.
  • The last $1,000 will go to Advocates for Youth.

Since it was founded in 1997, Cherry has donated more than $1 million to D.C. area community organizations, particularly those that provide testing and prevention services for HIV/AIDS.

In the past, as well as last year, the bulk of grant money came from ticket sales. But this year, Cherry’s president, Allen Sexton, was able to pursue the business community and enlist their financial support. That, coupled with an increase in ticket sales, resulted in $5,000 more than last year’s total.

Sexton says that, since taking over as president, he has heard from past presidents that the most Cherry ever raised was close to $70,000, near the turn of the millennium. But he notes that the total raised from the event has increased with each subsequent year, particularly as people began spending more on travel and leisure activities and the economy has rebounded from the 2008 recession.

“Each year, since the recession, it’s been climbing back, as have other dance parties” he says. “Our market has done a lot better. I’ve had discussions with other club promoters, and what they’ve said is it’s on the rise.”

Sexton also said the commitment of the local community, particularly the volunteers and corporate sponsors, played a significant role in the event’s success this year, both in April and in June, when Cherry hosted the official Capital Pride Afterhours party.

The annual Cherry event, which consists of several dance parties over a weekend, is held every April and features an international array of DJs. Next year’s event, Cherry 2016, is scheduled for April 14-17.

The Cherry Fund’s beneficiary reception will be held on Wednesday, July 15 at Cobalt, 1639 R St. NW, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit cherryfund.org or facebook.com/CherryFund.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com