Pitching in

updated 10/16/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/16/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ON THE GLITZ-AND-GLAMOR scale, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation carnival in New York City on Oct. 1 couldn't quite match the Oscars or the Golden Globes. But did anyone care? No way. "This is my favorite event," pronounced volunteer Luke Perry. Satisfied too were the 1,400 revelers who paid up to $1,600 a ticket to cavort with stars including Matthew Modine (manning Shuffle Alley), Katie Couric (seven months pregnant and overseeing the Lightning Strikes booth) and Richard Gere (tending the Big Mouth ringtoss).

Sponsored by Harper's Bazaar, the bash raised spirits—and $1.1 million for pediatric AIDS research and treatment. It also served as a tribute to Elizabeth Glaser, the charity's cofounder, who died of AIDS last December. "She inspired us with her love, honor and enduring sense of life," said designer Donna Karan. Actor-director Paul Michael Glaser said his wife's brave struggle showed how "we must remember our ability to dream, to fight and to have compassion."

But in the end the day belonged to the event's real stars, the 15 HIV-positive children on hand to face-paint and shoot hoops. Even some of the carnival's famous barkers couldn't help but be awestruck. "Everyone keeps thanking me for coming," said Perry, "but I want to thank them for having me."

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