What is the Telluride AIDS Benefit?


The (RED) team is so lucky to have the INC(RED)IBLE Joey Hunt on as our Impact Intern this summer. Last month, she attended the annual fashion show put on by Telluride AIDS Benefit, an organization she’s been involved with since middle school. Learn more about her experience and about how Telluride AIDS Benefit works to support the fight against HIV/AIDS.


Nestled in the San Juan Mountains at 9,000 ft, the Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB) gathers people from across the globe to raise money and awareness to end HIV/AIDS in the I had the pleasure of growing up in Telluride and have been involved in the organization since hearing about it during an AIDS Education day at Telluride Middle School.

Robert Presley

Robert Presley

In 1994, the entire Telluride community surrounded Robert Presley, a local fashion enthusiast, to show support in his fight against AIDS and to help with his mounting medical bills. Though Presley died from complications related to the disease in 1997, TAB has lived on to support individuals across rural Colorado and sub-Saharan Africa.

TAB honors Presley’s indomitable spirit and love for exuberant fashion through an annual gala fashion show. Companies from across the country donate clothing, local artists create elaborate “wearable art pieces,” and the community comes together to recognize the ongoing challenges faced by those living with HIV in Colorado and beyond.

From my first exposure to the energy and clear passion of the long-time locals involved in the benefit, I knew I had to get involved. I began volunteering as a peer educator, facilitating conversations among students interested in learning more about the role that stigma and discrimination play in fighting AIDS. I finished my high school career as Director of the Student Fashion Show, serving as head liaison between the adult and student shows, and orchestrating the entire sold out performance in February of 2018. My passion for the cause only deepened during my studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I served as an assistant researcher at the Center for AIDS Research. This summer, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to support the fight against AIDS as (RED)’s Impact Intern.


Last month, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, TAB was able to put on their 27th annual Fashion Show. Dubbed “the Runway at the Runway,” this year’s show featured 30 models on a stage built at the Telluride Municipal Airport—nestled even higher than Telluride at 10,000 feet. Alongside the impressive models rocking the latest trends, the show was complemented by 360-degree views of the San Juan Mountains, namely Mount Wilson directly behind the stage.

While (RED) continues its work with some of the world’s largest brands to combat health emergencies like AIDS around the world, the Telluride AIDS Benefit Fashion Show is a testament to how small communities in the US are making significant impact in the fight against AIDS, as well.