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A Day for Heroes

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THE FIRST TIME I CAME TO THIS PICNIC WAS BECAUSE Elizabeth asked me,” said baseball great Sandy Koufax. “I’m here today because Elizabeth isn’t here to ask me.” It was a sentiment echoed time and again during the sixth annual Pediatric AIDS Foundation benefit on June 4—the first without Elizabeth Glaser, the organization’s cofounder, who succumbed to the disease last Dec. 3. Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Steven Spielberg, Geena Davis and a slew of other stars were among the 1,600 guests who paid up to $1,500 each for an afternoon of carnival games and eats at the old Robert Taylor estate in Brentwood, Calif. They raised a record $1.9 million—and honored the memory of Glaser, who contracted the AIDS virus in 1981 from a blood transfusion and unknowingly passed it on to her daughter Ariel, who died in 1988 at age 7, and her son Jake, 10, who is HIV positive. “Elizabeth is no longer with us,” said her husband, actor-director Paul Michael Glaser, “but she’s here in spirit. Boy, do we know that.”

Secure in that knowledge, everyone had the kind of good time that Elizabeth had meant the picnic to be. As R&B music blared, kids romped and parents mingled with the stars. “I would do this every month,” said Courteney Cox Arquette.

But it was one of the youngest guests who best captured the urgency of the event. Eleven-year-old Hydeia Broadbent, one of many HIV-positive children on hand, tearfully read a poem she had written for Glaser. “One day we’ll all be together,” she said. “It just isn’t my time yet.”