Tucker steals the show at PawsCo fundraiser

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Joanne David­son Joanne David­son: 303-809-1314, par­ti­writer@hot­mail.com and @joanne­david­son on Twit­ter.

All sorts of high-pow­ered, good-hearted peo­ple turned out for the fourth an­nual edi­tion of PawsCo’s sig­na­ture fundraiser, Dog Days of Sum­mer.

But the guest that stole ev­ery­one’s heart was Tucker, a wig­gly, tail-wag­ging mixed-breed pup whose sur­vival hinges on an ex­pen­sive surgery to re­pair a mal­func­tion­ing heart valve.

The good news is that the $5,000 pro­ce­dure will take place, thanks to the gen­eros­ity shown when 7News me­te­o­rol­o­gist Mike Nel­son con­ducted the “paw raiser” that fol­lowed live auc­tion bid­ding.

The goal was to raise $15,000 to sup­ple­ment PawsCo’s work on be­half of dogs and cats in need. Thanks to his skill as a mas­ter of cer­e­moniess­lash-auc­tion­eer, the grand to­tal will ex­ceed $41,000.

The all-vol­un­teer PawsCo was founded in 2013 by Mike Nel­son’s daugh­ter, Tiana, and Kristin Des­Marais-Bright. Tiana Nel­son, the di­rec­tor of Den­ver pub­lic re­la­tions and out­reach for Colorado State Uni­ver­sity, is PawsCo’s pres­i­dent and chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer; DesMaraisBright, a long­time an­i­mal wel­fare pro­fes­sional, is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.

“We work our pro­fes­sional ca­reers by day and do ev­ery­thing we can to make the world a bet­ter place for an­i­mals by evening and week­end,” Nel­son said, adding that the vol­un­teers who give so gen­er­ously of their time are “tire­less, pos­i­tive, de­ter­mined and im­pact­ful.”

PawsCo works in part­ner­ship with shel­ters in Colorado to find dogs and cats that might not other­wise be adopted. The an­i­mals are placed in fos­ter homes un­til they’re adopted by in­di­vid­u­als or fam­i­lies that have been care­fully screened. In 2016, PawsCo was able to help 250 dogs and cats find their for­ever homes, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of adop­tions to about 1,300.

Also in 2016, the vol­un­teers col­lected and dis­trib­uted 38,000 pounds of pet food, in co­op­er­a­tion with Food Bank of the Rock­ies, and dis­patched the PawsCo mo­bile vet­eri­nary clinic to sev­eral ru­ral ar­eas of the state where 547 spay and neuter pro­ce­dures were per­formed. That num­ber is ex­pected to dou­ble in 2017.

Dog Days of Sum­mer 2017 was held at the McNi­chols Civic Cen­ter Build­ing and in­cluded silent and live auc­tions, food from Serendip­ity Cater­ing and DJ mu­sic for danc­ing.

The 200-plus guests in­cluded in­com­ing PawsCo board mem­bers Liz Cahill and Anna Ew­ing. Cahill is chief marketing of­fi­cer for the Colorado Of­fice of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment and In­ter­na­tional Trade; Ew­ing is the agency’s chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer.

Others sup­port­ing the cause were Karen Rosen, di­rec­tor of events at Project CURE; psy­chol­o­gist Deb Gauchat with fi­ancé Chris Woods; Kim Warda, who had gone to high school with Tiana Nel­son and now vol­un­teers as PawsCo’s marketing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor; Bran­don Miles, se­nior ac­count ex­ec­u­tive at Strate­gic Prod­ucts and Ser­vices; Ed Rosen­thal and Karen Robin­son Rosen­thal, the “busi­ness betty” at Tiny Stu­dio Col­lec­tive; Sarah Rumple, a PawsCo board mem­ber who has worked as a writer/ed­i­tor in the an­i­mal health field since 2011; and den­tist Gene Bloom with wife Feli­cia Di­a­mond, who in 2008 co­founded what is now PawsCo’s an­nual pet food drive.

Deanna Hurt, StinkDog Pho­tos

An­na­marie John­son holds Tucker, a mixed-breed pup that needs ex­pen­sive surgery to re­pair a mal­func­tion­ing heart valve.

Event chairs Kaela Basse and Jacquelyn Pyun.

Board of di­rec­tors mem­bers Diane Balkin and Liz Cahill, and board pres­i­dent Anna Ew­ing.

PawsCo vol­un­teers, from left: Liz Fa­gen, Malissa Spero, Stacey Triplett, Shelly Gale, Karen Rosen and Vic­to­ria Fran­cis.

Kristin Des Marais, left, and Tiana Nel­son are co­founders of PawsCo.

Pho­tos by Steve Peter­son, Ter­raChroma.com

Em­cee Mike Nel­son and fos­ter di­rec­tor Kate­lyn Massey.

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