Love was in the air at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on Saturday, June 20, as hundreds of animal lovers gathered for the Petco Foundation’s annual Hope Gala, honoring leaders in animal welfare and raising money to support the Foundation’s lifesaving work.
This year’s event, themed "A Celebration of Love," was once again presented by Natural Balance in partnership with Petco, and raised more than $780,000 to help animals across the country!
The celebration kicked off on Friday, June 19, with a special pre-party aptly named Tapas, 'Tinis, and Tails. Gala guests and their four-legged friends enjoyed a reading from a pet psychic and watched as artist Stephen Fishwick completed a live painting that would be auctioned off the next night. Our partners at Merrick generously sponsored the evening’s entertainment, which also included a doggie treat bar, red carpet photos, and caricature artists.
Petco Foundation Executive Director Susanne Kogut joined Petco Foundation President & Petco Chief People Officer Charlie Piscitello to present 2015 Hope Gala honorees, Nancy and Katherine Heigl, with the Hope Award for their tireless work to help animals through the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation.
Nancy shared the story of how she and Katherine founded the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, named after their late son and brother, an animal lover who passed away at a young age.
"We are humbled and honored to be the recipients of this year's Hope Award," said Katherine. "The Jason Debus Heigl Foundation was established out of love—for animals and for my brother, Jason, who loved all creatures. I am so proud to join the Petco Foundation in celebrating the common goal that we all have to make a difference in animals' lives."
The Petco Foundation also recognized the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter, based in Georgetown, Texas, with the Paul Jolly Compassion Award. This award, named in honor of the Petco Foundation’s former Executive Director Paul Jolly, celebrates an organization that leads by example in driving innovation and results in lifesaving.
Williamson County, an open-intake shelter, has held a 90 percent save rate or better since 2010. As part of their award, the shelter will receive a $75,000 grant from the Petco Foundation to help continue its lifesaving work.
"Each year, the Hope Gala allows us to shine a light on individuals and organizations that are doing incredible things to help animals," said Susanne Kogut, Executive Director of the Petco Foundation. "This night is a celebration of our shared love for animals, and our honorees perfectly exemplify what a powerful motivator love can be in creating impactful change. We applaud Katherine and Nancy Heigl and the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter for their continued commitment to helping animals live the lives they deserve."
[Watch Award Winners Video]
In addition to honoring lifesaving work, Simply She and Wahl once again presented the ever-popular Rescues & Runway fashion show, featuring adopted or adoptable pets from the San Diego Humane Society. The pets were an event favorite, dressed to the nines and strutting down the runway, with some even performing tricks.
The Foundation team was also excited to show its appreciation to Petco field partners and Foundation Champions by welcoming them as guests to San Diego for this year's gala in recognition of their dedication to fundraising in their stores and districts throughout the year.
"Our Petco partners from the stores, DCs, and support centers passionately support the Petco Foundation all year long," said Susanne. "It was an honor to share this celebration with these teams and partners who are so committed to helping animals in need."
The Petco Foundation team would like to thank all of its Hope Gala sponsors, along with everyone who made this year’s event a Celebration of Love and all that we can accomplish together.[View Images from Gala]