I don't remember when I met Tom Viola since I can't remember a time when he wasn't in my life. So much of my life has turned out to be about Broadway and Caring and AIDS — and they are all tied up in one package in one of the sweetest, most humble and most generous people I have ever known.
No matter what the event is and how huge and complicated it is, I see Tom everywhere, supporting everyone and handling millions of details without ever breaking a sweat or even getting stressed.
Not only has his bringing together of two organizations — Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS — changed the face of the disease, it has created a model of giving within the Broadway and New York theatre community that shows us all how to be one family. He has put together the most amazing team that has ever been seen in the world of non-profit.
He is unique in always looking for ways to expand the mission and make an impact on more lives so we can do more good. He and his team have raised more than $250 million for critical health issues and disasters worldwide as well as right here at home by giving essential funds to The Actors Fund, the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative, the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, and many more. In 2010 he received a special Tony Award for his work. Engraved on it are the words: "In recognition of the leadership, advocacy, and creativity with which he has mobilized the theatre community's response to AIDS and other critical health issues."
His is the touch and the heart that heals and by knowing him and participating with him in this work, the world is truly uplifted, as is my life.
At every Gypsy of the Year event when he asks me to do the "Moment of Silence" and we stop in the middle of this glorious celebration and remember those we have lost to AIDS, I feel deeply honored and privileged.
The legacy he is living is one that models how to be authentic and ultimately human. He is all about health, healing, and giving at home and around the world. There is truly no one like him. He will be forever in my life and I could not be more grateful.