Gold at the end of the rainbow

The talent of more than 300 local performers will be showcased during Sunday's "Ribbon of Life," an annual fundraiser for people living with HIV.

Performers from Mosaic, "Zumanity," "Viva Elvis," "Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular," "Love," "Le Reve," "Legends in Concert," "Peepshow," "The Lion King," "Fantasy," "Jersey Boys" and "Jubilee!" will sing, dance and act to raise money for Golden Rainbow, a local nonprofit that provides housing and financial assistance to people with HIV.

It's one of the biggest casts ever in the 24-year history of "Ribbon of Life," says Lea Clayville, executive director of Golden Rainbow.

The organization was started by performers from local shows after one of their own lost a brother to AIDS. He was living in his family member's garage at the time, Clayville says. The loss galvanized the entertainers to raise money so that no one else would have to go through what their friend did, she adds.

Every year, Golden Rainbow assists 600 men, women and children who are HIV positive, providing everything from a place to live to financial aid for necessities. The annual "Ribbon of Life" show raises about $200,000, which accounts for about 80 percent of Golden Rainbow's operating budget.

"We have the only permanent housing in town designed for low-income people living with HIV," Clayville says.

Golden Rainbow owns and operates eight two-bedroom apartments and a three-bedroom home. Recently, it added a two-bedroom townhouse to its housing. Twenty-three people live in the housing and a waiting list always exists, Clayville says. Recipients must meet income requirements.

The economy has affected Golden Rainbow in two ways: Raising funds has been more difficult and at the same time, more people have been applying for help.

"People that never required services before are coming out and asking for help," Clayville says. "It puts a strain on us, but we're always trying to think outside the box."

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@ or 702-380-4564.