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Rose Parade Float To Honor Elizabeth Taylor For AIDS Advocacy

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(Credit: AP/Reed Saxon)

(Credit: AP/Reed Saxon)

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — For the first time in its 123-year history, the 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade will have a float focused on the fight against HIV/AIDS, it was announced Thursday.

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Health Care Foundation said its float titled “Elizabeth Taylor: Our Champion” won approval to participate in the parade on Jan. 2.

The foundation, which provides medical care and services to more than 124,000 people in 26 countries around the globe, said it was the first time it had sponsored a float for the parade.

The float will be dedicated to two-time Academy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor for her “nearly three-decade-long advocacy and compassion on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS,” the group said in a statement.

Taylor died in March at the age of 79. She began supporting AIDS causes in the 1980s, including co-founding the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985 and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1993.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said Taylor was more than a film star. “Long before it was fashionable, she was there by our side, a singular and fearless champion for AIDS activism,” Weinstein said.

“She spoke truth to power on a variety of issues, and her organization, which had no overhead, helped fund AHF and other AIDS organizations in Los Angeles at a time when funding was hard to come by.”

The foundation received several grants from Taylor’s personal AIDS foundation, including programs to provide antiretroviral drug treatment to people with AIDS in South Africa.

“AHF’s `Our Champion’ float also serves as a reminder that, though Ms. Taylor bravely stood up for people living with HIV/AIDS at an important moment in history, the AIDS epidemic is still not over, and there remains much work to be done,” Weinstein said.

The foundation plans to sell “memory flowers” through a text messaging donation campaign. For a $5 donation, supporters can have the name of a loved one or friend who has died of the disease hand written on one of 150,000 water vials that will make up the float.

The float designed by Raul Rodriquez will be made in the shape of a red ribbon, the international symbol of AIDS, with a revolving planet Earth. It will also include photographs of Taylor from different stages in her life and career.

The Tournament of Roses Parade begins Jan. 2 at 8 a.m.

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