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Red Pump Project Combines Unique Elements to Create HIV & AIDS Awareness

Lee Edwards | 4/2/2014, 4:20 p.m.
The Red Pump Project, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, that educates women and girls about HIV/AIDS, recently held its annual ...
The Red Pump Project Founders Karyn Watkins (left) and Luvvie Ajayi at the 5th Annual Rock the Red Fashion Show at 1240 W. Randolph

The Red Pump Project, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, that educates women and girls about HIV/AIDS, recently held its annual fundraiser and fashion extravaganza, Rock the Red Fashion Show, at Alhambra Palace, 1240 W. Randolph, where Chicago based clothing designers were featured.

The Red Pump Project was founded by Luvvie Ajayi and Karyn Watkins after they successfully created a social media campaign to generate awareness for National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day which is recognized every year on March 10.

“Both me and my co-founder, Karyn Watkins, know people who are living with HIV or have been really affected by it so we thought we had the power to do something about it and what we decided to do was the Red Pump Project,” said Luvvie Ajayi, Red Pump Project co-founder.

“I meet with people who are HIV positive and help them learn about what is happening with them and help them cope with it.  I talk to them about exposure issues with children and help them live and be as happy as possible.” - Envy Turk, Ultimate Red Pump Rocker Award recipient at the Rock the Red Fashion Show hosted by The Red Pump Project.

“I meet with people who are HIV positive and help them learn about what is happening with them and help them cope with it. I talk to them about exposure issues with children and help them live and be as happy as possible.” - Envy Turk, Ultimate Red Pump Rocker Award recipient at the Rock the Red Fashion Show hosted by The Red Pump Project.

“By people attending this event and supporting this event not only do they walk away with a greater understanding of the impact of this disease but they also are contributing; helping us fund educational programs, health care, service projects, etc. that all relate and tie into HIV,” said Karyn Watkins, Red Pump Project co-founder. “We’ve had women of all different races and ethnicities support our events and participate in programs and invite us to speak.

According to Ajayi and Watkins, the organization's logo, a red pump shoe, symbolizes the strength and courage women affected by HIV/AIDS must maintain in order to lead productive lives.

This year's fashion event, which is in its fifth year, highlighted trendy designs by Anastasia Chatzka, Redgi Woods, Martina Fanella, Yhata'k Designs by Katherine Walker, Modahnik, and shoes by AKIRA.

Additionally, Evany Turk, a full time Program Coordinator at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, was honored during the show with an Ultimate Red Pump Rocker Award.

Turk is active in several HIV awareness organizations including the Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS Policy (IL ASAP), the Black Treatment AIDS Network and the Black Treatment AIDS Network.

“I meet with people who are HIV positive and help them learn about what is happening with them and help them cope with it,” said Turk. “I talk to them about exposure issues with children and help them live and be as happy as possible.”

Evany Turk is the birth mother of two children and the foster mother of five.

“She really epitomizes what we hold dear which is women who are living with the disease and doing what’s in their power to help others live well, too,” said Ajayi on why Turk was Ultimate Red Pump Rocker Award recipient.

Walgreens sponsored has The Rock the Red Fashion Show every year.

For more information visit http://www.theredpumpproject.org/.