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Elton receives Philadelphia Humanitarian Award

Tuesday 5 July 2005 @ 5:27 - GMT

Elton awardedPhiladelphia's Mayor John Street presented today, Elton with the city's first-ever Philadelphia City of Brotherly Love Award.

It honors Elton's efforts to improve the plight of people around the world living with AIDS or HIV.

"I am truly pround to be here as a British person who loves America so much," Elton said during the ceremony.

From behind dark blue sunglasses, Elton smiled approvingly as a group of youngsters from the First Philadelphia Charter School for Literacy sang a lyrical rendition of his song, Philadelphia Freedom.

Calling him the citys "adopted son," Mayor John F. Street described Elton as "leading the charge ... to eradicate a disease that is devastating the world."  In a footnote to the ceremony, Street also thanked the performer for giving the city its signature anthem.

The tributes did not end there. Elton met with an HIV survivor and posed for photos outside the William Way Community Center for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.

The street sign there now bears the name Elton's Way.

Two days ago, I appeared in a concert in London called, "Make Poverty History," said Elton, and added, "My ambition is to make AIDS history."

Elton and fellow performers including Patti LaBelle, Bryan Adams and singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright hope to raise $2 million in donations at the free Philadelphia Freedom Concert and the $500- to $2,500-a-person Freedom Ball.