Compass Community Center in Lake Worth Beach celebrated the summer and The Smart Ride with its sixth annual annual Lei Me Luau Party held at The Mad Hatter Lounge.
Compass raised $1,700 to participate in the SMART Ride, which is a 165-mile bike ride from Miami to Key West in November that raises money for HIV/AIDS prevention groups.
Compass has provided HIV/AIDS services to thousands of people living in Palm Beach County and looks forward to growing the presence of Palm Beach County during this year’s ride.
"I often forget that I am HIV positive and alive, mainly because of fundraising events like this,'' said Mad Hatter Lounge employee Bruce Jagers. "I love the Luau and the money that is raised. It keeps me alive. I'm excited to be a part just to say ‘thank you’ for giving me life.”
Dylan Brooks, Compass’ HIV testing coordinator, facilitated most of the event.
"People came from all over to help us party at The Hatter," Brooks said. "I'm always excited to see the community come together and support each other.”
Local businesses like Studio 205, H.G. Roosters, Citrus Salon and Spa, and Penny’s at the Duke donated several items as donations toward the luau’s 50-50 raffle, where the winner takes half of the amount raised. The total raised was $700 and West Palm Beach resident Jay Cee earned the winnings — but decided to give his portion back to Compass.
Each year, the Compass prevention department collaborates with The Mad Hatter Lounge to supply Palm Beach County with one of its most tropical parties. Kristof's Catering of Lake Worth Beach put itsa own spin on the theme with an entire roasted pig for guests — as did local artist and longtime Mad Hatter Lounge head of decor George Peer with plenty of handmade flowers around the bar.
Dozens of people celebrated the evening with Brooks and the rest of the Compass crew. Guests that came to party included employees of Compass, members of Smart Ride, several community leaders, and owners of LGBT-friendly bars in Palm Beach County.
For more information on how you can donate to The Smart Ride or Compass, visit the Compass website.