Local automobile dealer Jackie and Barbara Cooper's son died of complications from AIDS in 1989.
Several years later, the couple was approached by a group who needed help raising money, leading the Coopers to form the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund, which raises money for Regional AIDS Interfaith Network and Oklahoma's biggest fund-raiser, Red Tie Night.
The first year, Red Tie Night raised approximately $125,000. This year " its 15th " it grossed more than a million dollars.
Loretta Brower, director of the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund, said people are more encouraged to donate to the group because all their money goes directly to the cause.
"We're able to take what we raise and give it back," Brower said. "I think that makes people feel good to know the money they give is really being used."
The money from the event goes to 18 different Oklahoma agencies that provide services and tests for AIDS. Brower said that for some of these agencies, the money from the fund-raiser helps them survive.
"For some of these agencies, it's very difficult to get funding," she said. "So it's just very, very important that we're here, and we're able to help." "Krista Nightengale