NEW YORK (AP) — Elton John honored Hillary Rodham Clinton for her work to help those affected by HIV and AIDS at an annual event for his foundation.
Clinton was excited as she accepted the first founders award from the Elton John AIDS Foundation on Tuesday night in New York. The former secretary of state told the crowd at Cipriani’s restaurant that “we still have so far to go” when it comes to helping those affected by HIV and AIDS.
“There are so many challenges in front of us,” Clinton said. The former U.S. senator added that she wants to see an “AIDS-free generation” and that accomplishing that must be “our North Star.”
“I thank you, but I know there’s more for us to do,” she said. “Humans may discriminate, but viruses don’t.”
Billy Joel, Alec Baldwin, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Lisa Marie Presley and Courtney Love also attended John’s “An Enduring Vision: A Benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation” event, which raised $3.45 million. Recent Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Heart performed a dozen songs, including the hits “What About Love” and “Alone.”
“One of my favorite bands of all time!” John yelled before Heart hit the stage.
John was passionate throughout the night, urging attendees that there should be AIDS “treatment for everyone, treatment for all.”
“We must never give up on anyone,” he said, adding that those who want to help have to be “stubborn” when it comes to finding ways to assist those affected by AIDS.
The event raised $1 million through an anonymous donor and more funds through an auction, which included a lunch with Anderson Cooper for $12,000 and a one-hour tennis lesson with Novak Djokovic for $60,000. Two different signed photos of John taken by Terry O’Neill went for $26,000 and $27,000.
Matt Lauer hosted the gala, filling in for Cooper, who was on assignment in Washington, D.C. He provided laughs at the start of the event but received helped from John’s partner, David Furnish, who also worked to facilitate the program.
John’s foundation is celebrating its 20th year. Before presenting Clinton with her award, John paid tribute to Furnish.
“We are a week away from our 20th anniversary,” he said to gushes from the crowd.
John added that he was touched by Clinton’s speech in Geneva, when she declared that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”
John told The Associated Press before the event that he hopes Clinton runs for president in 2016.
“She’s a great human rights campaigner for people of color, for people of sexual orientation,” he said. “She’s made our fight easier by being such a staunch supporter of AIDS and for people’s human rights.”
Clinton also headlined a New York fundraiser Tuesday night for Terry McAuliffe, a longtime family friend who is running for Virginia governor.
She has largely avoided political events this year but is helping McAuliffe and New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, a former campaign aide. Clinton plans to publicly endorse McAuliffe at a campaign event in Falls Church, Va., on Saturday.
Associated Press entertainment producer John Carucci contributed to this report.