Max Von Essen joins Scott Nevins as part of the entertainment at "The Chase" that is "light on the talk, and heavier on the entertainment and fun."
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY DAP HEALTH / MICHAEL LURIE PHOTOGRAPH BY JENNY ANDERSON
The change will be immediately noticeable when you arrive at “The Chase”. Instead of heading indoors for a traditional ballroom event, DAP Health will stage its annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards outdoors April 9 in front of the Palm Springs Convention Center.
A smaller change and yet equally apparent when you arrive, instead of walking on the traditional red carpet you’ll see blue. “Blue is typically the color of healthcare. We decided to make a blue carpet this year to honor all the health care workers for their hard work during the pandemic,” says Steven Henke, director of marketing for DAP Health.
The move to the outdoors is also in deference to the pandemic to minimize the crowd factor but also create a Palm Springs feel. The transition is part of a collaboration between DAP Health and JJLA out of Los Angeles, which manages live events including the LA Pride Festival and Parade. The two worked on last year’s virtual Steve Chase event.
Consoletti says moving outdoors was a combination of creating an open-air environment for guests to feel safer, and “we loved the idea of creating a free-flowing, airy and festive outdoor event at the breathtaking building, that allows guests an opportunity to discover and mingle.”
Lauri Kibby and Kevin Bass will co-host the event with comedian Scott Nevins. Entertainment will come from Eden Espinosa, Spencer Ludwig, and Deborah Cox.
“Everyone is going to get to socialize more, with a program that is light on the talk, and heavier on the entertainment and fun,” says Nevins. “We are all long overdue for a celebration together - and 'The Chase' will deliver just that!”
Palm Springs Life spoke further with Henke about "The Chase", the event’s history and DAP Health.
How does it feel to have the event back in-person?
I think The Chase has, since its beginning, really been an opportunity for the community to come together. It's one of those events that just marks the calendar, and it has been now for 28 years. I think when it fell off the calendar during the pandemic, it left a big gap because it's like a holiday.
It sets the tone for the year. What we’ve heard from the community is they are hungry to get together again to reconnect. They've been isolated for two years. Now there's a lot of energy around getting back together and seeing friends, and supporting the organizations, ours and others, that are so important to this community.
How have the last two years impacted the decisions on creating this gala?
With DAP being one of the first spaces to open a COVID clinic, we were very mindful of safety. That's why last year we chose to televise our gala entirely virtual. This year, we wanted to make sure that it was outdoors, so that anybody who didn't feel quite comfortable inside, would be included in the event and feel very safe doing that. As a healthcare organization, I think we have a special responsibility, to make sure that we're setting the right tone.
How important is an event like this for the community?
This event is so important because when people attend this event, it reconfirms their commitment to health equity. It reconfirms their commitment to health justice. These things are important. I think this community cares deeply about their fellow neighbors having access to a quality of life, and to comprehensive care.
That's the work that DAP has done for the entire history of the organization. First as Desert AIDS project, and now as DAP Health. The name change really was a signal that the doors are open to more than just HIV Specialty Care. That is the core of what we do. That is our mission. But our broader mission is the health and well-being of the entire community, and particularly underserved communities.
Can you tell me a little bit about the event’s history? How did it become a significant event?
The event didn't start as a Steve Chasing Humanitarian Awards. It started as an event called Heartstrings. Steve Chase was co-chair of that event. Over the years after Steve Chase passed away, it was determined to change the name to the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards.
The community has always had a deep affection for the event, and they gave it the nickname, The Chase. This is the first year that we're really using this name. Just like they always called us The DAP or DAP. Even when we were Desert AIDS Project, they had that nice nickname for us.
This event was at the very beginning of the AIDS crisis. There was a sense urgency and emergency for the event. It was funding these vital, vital services. As the years progressed, and as DAP opened its doors wider, and added more and more services. Mental healthcare, dental healthcare, primary care for people living with, or not living with HIV.
What can the guests expect at the gala?
I think the first thing they can expect is to feel a deep sense of satisfaction and pride. That they are supporting an organization that has been and boldly innovating to meet the needs of this community for 36 years. I think that's a real sense of community pride.
The first part, having an AIDS service organization like DAP or Desert AIDS Project, was important to this community. It reshaped the city of Palm Spring as folks emigrated here for care. As the years progressed, and more services were added, and now with the name change to DAP Health, over 10,000 people call DAP Health, their healthcare home. When you buy a ticket, you're making a direct impact in the lives of over 10,000 people. They're making that kind of an impact.
How important are events like “The Chase” to raise awareness for your cause?
It's very important because DAP Health receives funding in a lot of different ways. Some through grants, some through our Revival stores, some through private donors. Events like the gala, those investments cover what we expect in terms of expenses. We never know how many people are going to walk through our doors in a given month. We never know how many of those will be uninsured and need assistance.
That's what the events do, is they afford us that opportunity, so that the doors to compassionate and comprehensive care are always open to people who need it. They afford us the opportunity to do things that are very innovative, like taking our services out to the East Valley, and to launch a Harm Reduction Program. It also helps us to make sexual wellness free in our Orange Clinics, so that there's not a roadblock to somebody coming in who needs that stigma free, judgment free, free care.