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2021 Pediatric AIDS Benefit Concert

February 26, 2021

The 28th annual Drexel University College of Medicine Pediatric AIDS Benefit Concert (PABC) took place virtually due to COVID-19, and although the change of venue was disappointing, student organizers knew the show must go on. Since its inaugural show, PABC has raised over $600,000 for the patients of the Dorothy Mann Center for Pediatric and Adolescent HIV at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

"When coordinating a virtual event got challenging, we had a constant reminder: 'This is for the kids, this is for St. Chris'" said PABC co-chair Kelly Gillock, MD program Class of 2023. "Knowing that we were doing something that was ultimately to benefit them kept us going in what sometimes seemed like impossible circumstances."

Performers at the Pediatric AIDS Benefit Concert

Gillock and her classmate Mackenzie McDougal co-chaired this year’s event, spearheading efforts to bring to life online the performances, auction and refreshments PABC attendees enjoy in a typical year.

Often, a challenge also had a bright spot. Gillock said that although musicians and dancers faced logistical issues in recording and submitting their performances, the performers who typically take the stage for PABC were happy to offer up their time and talent this year. And while student organizers had trouble finding the right platform for the event’s virtual silent auction, they found that the online format simplified bidding, payment and notification of item winners.

“I actually think the auction ran more smoothly online,” Gillock said.

In a typical year, PABC attendees enjoy an open bar and buffet coordinated by the food committee, who changed course this year. The committee ran a Thanksgiving food drive for St. Chris families affected by pediatric AIDS and coordinated with several local restaurants so that a portion of takeout and delivery sales to PABC attendees on the night of the event benefited the fundraiser.

A performer at the Pediatric AIDS Benefit Concert

Other student committees worked to grow PABC’s online marketing and social media presence, and to come up with new avenues of fundraising – 2021 marked the first time in the event’s history that PABC sold commemorative T-shirts.

Gillock and McDougal said the committee members’ flexibility and creativity helped make PABC 2021 a success, and they were happy to see new levels of inter-committee collaboration to help make things work.

“Being flexible and being creative, communicating well with your partners and working as a team, were key skills we learned this year,” Gillock said.

"Even though everything looked a bit different, I think we were ultimately able to do a lot of new and great things," McDougal said.