Saturday May 3rd I joined the Petco Foundation for my second year in a row to celebrate the 6th Annual Hope Gala – presented by Natural Balance and held at the Hilton Bayfront San Diego. More than 750 animal lovers packed the sold out ball eager to bid on auction items which would raise money toward the amazing Petco Foundation programs which help animal rescue shelters in need. Last year the Petco Foundation HOPE Gala raised over $40k for pets in need during the auction alone– and for 2014, President of the Petco Foundation Charlie Piscitello and his heroic team outdid themselves once again overall raising $677,000 for animal welfare programs. To make things even more mind blowing- Piscitello and his incredibly generous Foundation awarded the Hilaroo Foundation – a program which rescues emotionally and physically abused animals $100,000 toward their program! Incredible right!?? Oh and it should be mentioned Academy Award winner, Hilary Swank, being the founder of the Hilaroo Foundation, was the recipient of this year’s Hope Gala Honoree Award. Another great award to put on her mantle next to all her Oscars! I was super excited about seeing such a incredibly influential and respected woman like Hilary Swank stand up for animal rescue.
Pictured from left to right: Me with Charlie Piscitello President of Petco Foundation, Hilary Swank arrives to Gala with pup, Marcus Dockter Petco representative.
At 6:15p I got set up for my exclusive meet and greet with the Petco Foundation representatives and honorees. As you can imagine I was thrilled!! As I made my way into the press room there they were- the Petco Foundation President Charlie Piscitello and this years Petco Foundation HOPE Gala AWARD RECIPIENT, Hillary Swank. It must not go unnoticed that Swank made it her goal to attend that event as pet parent and animal advocate, and not the two time Academy Award winning actress. Her focus was set on speaking about the importance of animal welfare and the fight to save pets who are victim of physical neglect and abuse who are in need of care and finding forever homes.
At 7:00p It was time for Gala guests to make their way to the ballroom – awaiting them was their 3 course dinner accompanied by any top shelf cocktails wine or beverages of their choice. Three time Emmy Award winner and San Diego CBS8 news anchor Dan Cohen ( @dancohenCBS8 ) was host of the Gala for the third year in a row. His jokes and energy set the night off right as the program worked its way into the auction.
8:00p After a delicious filet mignon and two bone-shaped triple fudge truffle desserts, it was fundraising time. Auction bids started as high at $1,000 to kick of and as items featured, Baseball seats behind Petco Park, and a night out with some of San Diego’s greatest athletes to name some of my favorite. Hillary Swank topped the the night by offering tickets to her next movie premiere which helped raise a substantial portion of money towards the cause! Shortly after Charlie Piscitello presented Hillary Swank with the 2014 Hope Gala Recipient Award. Swank will join Lily Tomlin ( last year’s HOPE Gala recipient) Ellen DeGeneres, Betty White among others as honoree of the prestigious philanthropy award.
8:30p After the event, it was dancing time! Dan Cohen introduced the The Heroes, San Diego’s Number One Wedding and Events Band for their 2nd year as the musical entertainment and they we’re awesome! The talented group covers all the big hits from new and old school. They most certainly got me on the dance floor! I hope the Gala plans to have them back for years to come.
To, a spectacular and memorable evening for a great cause. THANK YOU to Hilary Swank, Charlie Piscitello, and the everybody from the Petco Foundation for their tremendous efforts animal welfare. Their is not greater respect than that for those willing to put themselves second, and voiceless animals in need first.