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Sunday, August 29, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Aids Bracelets A Quiet Reminder: `Until There's A Cure'

Knight-Ridder Newspapers

The despairing feeling of watching a friend die and a desire to help others provided the genesis of the Until There's A Cure bracelet.

"I lost my best friend to AIDS two years ago," said Dana Cappiello, the Woodside, Calif., woman behind the bracelet. "I knew people who had died of AIDS, but I'd never gone through it with anyone.

"When my friend died, so many people were unmoved. They said, `Well, it's AIDS,' but it mattered so much to me. I wondered what can I do to get people to get compassionate and educated about this disease?"

Before he died, Cappiello's friend, Anthony Torrierri, visual director for Macy's, gave her a ring he had worn, which she started wearing. Looking at it and thinking of what she could do, Cappiello remembered the POW-MIA bracelets of the Vietnam War.

"I thought maybe we could get people to talk about AIDS through a bracelet," she said. Since she started wearing the prototype bracelet earlier this year, she's seen it work the way she hoped.

"People ask, `What is that?' The best part is people my parents' age who wouldn't ever talk about something like this are buying them. They're moved and able to share stories. It lets them talk about it.

"It's also given us an easy way to talk about what AIDS is with children," she said, adding that she's given a bracelet to each of her sons, ages 4 and 6.

Cappiello stressed that while "I had the idea, it's had a life of its own since."

Cappiello's friend Kathleen Scutchfield, herself grieving over the loss of her husband, Don, to cancer, encouraged Cappiello. Scutchfield moved to Italy and there asked designer Isabel Geddes da Filicaia to help with the design and manufacturing. Then Frank Doyle and Zale Mitchner of Silicon Graphics Inc. designed the packaging graphics.

The Until There's A Cure bracelet is a 5/16-inch-wide cuff with a small, AIDS-awareness ribbon raised on the outside end. The ribbon is in the same metal as the bracelet, which comes in silver plate for $20, sterling silver for $70 and 18-karat gold for $500. It comes in sizes small, medium and large. Inside the bracelet are two incised boxes, one inscribed "Until There's A Cure" and the other blank for personalization.

"Initially, the bracelet didn't have a ribbon on it," said Cappiello, explaining she shares the concern of many who worry the ribbon is becoming a marketing tool. "But then there was no way for people to associate it with AIDS. It's not a red ribbon; it's in the same metal as the bracelet so it's subtle."

Cappiello, who owns Dax & Co., which manufacturers maternity wear, children's clothing and women's sleepwear, says she expected to encounter some criticism, but thus far has not.

"This is not a ribbon piece of jewelry where only 10 percent goes to AIDS," she says. "Once people understand that no one is taking a profit and that 100 percent of available funds, which is how we had to put it legally, is going to AIDS, they're very positive."

All money goes to the Until There's A Cure Foundation in Menlo Park, an independent, charitable organization dedicated to fighting the AIDS epidemic by funding research, education and care service programs.

Cappiello says 50 percent of the money raised will go to the National Community AIDS Partnership (NCAP) in Washington, D.C., for distribution across the country, with half those funds going to care services and the other half going to education. NCAP has promised to match funds. The foundation will distribute the other 50 percent to AIDS vaccine research.

Marketing thus far has been limited to mail orders via the Foundation's toll-free (800) 88-UNTIL number and one day of sales at the San Francisco AIDS Walk on July 25. Of the 17,000 participants at the Walk, 1,500 bought bracelets, raising $30,000 in a three-hour period.

Cappiello says more than 200 of the gold bracelets have been sold through the 800 number.

The bracelet just went on sale at all 51 Macy's and Bullock's Western division stores, where it will be exclusive until Nov. 1.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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