BY KRISTIN M. HALL
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — When the members of the rock band U2 were just young Irish lads, they made a pledge to each other that has remained steadfast throughout their decades-long run as rock stars. But frontman Bono said the band is now willing to break that promise in order to raise money for his (RED) charity in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“U2 made a pledge early on, as teenagers actually, when we formed the band that the one thing we would never ever do — and it was a sacred pledge — was to play golf,” Bono said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “We didn’t think it was rock ‘n’ roll.”
The chance to play a round of mini-golf with one of the world’s most popular rock bands is just one of the once-in-a-lifetime celebrity experiences that are being raffled off at Omaze.com/RED as a part of the (RED) Shopathon campaign for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. For a $10 donation by Jan. 18, you get a chance to work out with Charlize Theron, go to a movie premiere with Reese Witherspoon, or visit Seoul with K-Pop star Taeyeon.
Bono also is teaming up again this year with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel for a (RED) charity special, airing at 11:35 p.m. EST Tuesday on ABC. Kimmel and other celebrities pretend to be home shopping hosts describing specially branded (RED) products, such as clothing, tech products, cosmetics and accessories that also are available online at Amazon.com/RED.
This year’s special guests will include Bono, Kristen Bell, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Bryan Cranston, Ashton Kutcher, DJ Khaled and Rita Wilson. Former President Barack Obama also will appear via a taped video message.
“We also have a big group song that we will be doing, which has become our annual tradition,” Kimmel said. “We will gather everybody together and force people to sing whether they can or not. I am in the not category.”
Formed by Bono and Bobby Shriver, (RED) has raised $500 million in the last 11 years to provide testing, prevention, treatment, counseling and care services in eight sub-Saharan African countries. Bono credits the American people and its government for leading the fight against HIV/AIDS, dating back to former President George W. Bush and continued by Obama.
“In a very divided America, this is one issue that left and right can take equal measures of pride in the success of the fight so far against HIV/AIDS,” said Bono.
But he said that the need for attention was more critical now that that treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS are at a tipping point.
“There are more people now on anti-retroviral drugs than are newly infected,” Bono said. “Just as this is happening, right at this moment, defeat could be seized from the jaws of victory. People are talking about cutting budgets on Capitol Hill and other capitols around the world.”
Kimmel’s (RED) Shopathon special has raised $100 million for the charity in the past two years, and he said he really likes the celebrity experiences that he’s done for charity, even if they seem rather random.
“Once I made grilled cheese for someone in my office and once I gave someone a piggy back ride,” Kimmel said. “I always try to come up with something dumb that seems to be fun and it’s fun to meet random people from who knows where.”
Despite the “no golf” pledge, Bono suspects that one member of U2 might be secretly excited for the chance to play the links.
“Edge would say things like, ‘There are some cool people who play golf, Bono. Like Iggy Pop or Willie Nelson or Jack Nicholson,'” Bono said of the U2 guitarist. “So some people might be very happy if the band is broken open in a major fight over crazy golf. We shall see.”
“I would hate if mini golf split this band up,” Kimmel said. “That would be a real tragedy.”
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