Tucker steals the show at PawsCo fundraiser
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.
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.
Emcee Mike Nelson and foster director Katelyn Massey.