By People Staff
June 24, 1996 12:00 PM

IT’S A PUNCH IN THE GUT ON A SUNNY day to take photos with kids who have AIDS,” said Dustin Hoffman at the seventh annual Pediatric AIDS Foundation carnival and picnic in L.A. on June 9. The event, which was cosponsored by PEOPLE, raised $1.7 million for the charity cofounded by Elizabeth Glaser, who died of the disease in 1994, and her friends Susie Zeegen and Susan DeLaurentis. Hoffman captured the afternoon’s bittersweet mood as he and other stars, including Meg Ryan, Ted Danson, Alicia Silverstone and Tom Hanks, signed autographs, posed for pictures and generally goofed around with the 15 HIV-positive children and their families on hand for the fun. “I love it,” said Christian Slater, a volunteer for the past five years. “The sad part is when the day comes to an end.”

On a sapphire-clear L.A. day, the celebs, kids and some 1,600 paying guests played Wiffle ball, fishpond and Whack-a-Mole, and noshed on shrimp escabeche, beet risotto and brownie pudding at the old Robert Taylor ranch in Brentwood. “This is a celebration of Elizabeth’s memory,” actor-director Paul Michael Glaser, Elizabeth’s widower, told the crowd. “We are heading toward a goal that’s within reach. We’re on the road, and we’re getting there.”