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HSUS's 'To the Rescue Gala' Recap: A Night to Remember

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Last night at Cipriani’s in New York City, the Humane Society of the United States raised over $1 million dollars for their life saving work. This Ecorazzi girl was lucky enough to attend the black tie shindig and hear first-hand about the amazing work HSUS does every day.

The ‘To the Rescue Gala,’ named for HSUS’s programs to rescue animals from disasters, hoarders and abuse, focused on the response teams that mobilize in hard situations. Whether it’s a raid on a puppy mill, a rescue operation in a flood zone, a raid on a cock fight, or rescuing 700 cats from a hoarder, HSUS is there with caring hands, medical treatment and a commitment to finding a home for every creature.

Will Estes from the CBS show Blue Bloods was the host of the evening and walked the audience through an introduction to HSUS’s work. Next up? Matt Lauer from ‘The Today Show’ (who joked that he was up way past his bed time), introduced the first award recipient, Jill Rappaport.

Jill, who was an entertainment correspondent for ‘The Today Show’ for seventeen years, changed direction after her dog Jack was diagnosed with cancer. Her love for Jack inspired her to give up her life in dresses chatting with celebrities and devote her time to animal protection. As she said in her speech last night, “I went from the red carpet to the wee wee pad.” Now Jill does a segment for ‘The Today Show’ called ‘Bow to the Wow’ where they feature homeless animals. Matt Lauer said proudly from the stage that the segment has a 100% adoption rate. Jill was given the Voice for the Animals award for her life saving work, not just on ‘The Today Show,’ but every day when she is out there rescuing animals.

The mayor of Newark New Jersey Cory A. Booker was up next. Mayor Booker was given the Humane Public Servant award. And with good reason. Booker, a vegetarian, has made animal issues a priority in Newark. After a horrific abuse case of a dog named Patrick, Booker used his birthday to ask the public to help him raise money to build a state of the art shelter that would be dedicated to Patrick and all animals who have suffered in similar circumstances.

While the awards were given out, guests dined on cuisine prepared by Tal Ronnen and the staff at Cipriani’s. Everyone started with delicious hors d’oeuvre (like the best risotto I’ve ever had). We then moved to our tables to enjoy a salad over a chickpea frittata. Next up, a recipe you can make at home (and you should). It was Ronnen’s famous Celery Root Soup with Granny Smith Apples. For the entree we dined on porcini mushroom tortelloni with oven dried tomatoes, artichoke, zucchini and eggplant ratatouille in a spinach cashew creme sauce and then finished up with a layered chocolate cake with Tahitian vanilla custard and pistachio ice-cream.

Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS and Lorenzo Borghese who was on the show ‘The Bachelor’ took to the stage to raise funds for specific programs. People were given the opportunity to give large gifts to specific projects. $25,000 was raised for a puppy mill raid. Another $25,000 went to saving the lives of at least 200 cats. $30,000 was raised to equip 21 emergency responders with the tools they need to be deployed in emergencies. Another $25,000 was raised to do an equine rescue. And then, $75,000 was raised to purchase a new mid sized truck to complete the fleet of vehicles HSUS uses to rescue animals. Between that and a vacation package, HSUS brought in over $200,000 just from people raising their hands.

Between the venue, the auction items (lots of diamonds and signed sports items), the food and the dazzling dresses, one couldn’t have asked for a more elegant affair. Wayne Pacelle, a gifted orator, was as inspiring as ever. While celebrities did bring us through the night on stage, guests were also given the privilege of meeting the heroes who work for HSUS who rescue animals each day. One even brought his dog, a little guy who was rescued from a puppy mill last year.

HSUS is the largest animal protection organization in the world. While they focused last night on their rescue initiatives, their programs are far-reaching and vital to furthering the cause to protect animals. I personally love them for their work to change laws. Whether it’s making cock fighting illegal, putting stricter regulations on puppy mills or helping battery cage hens, HSUS is there. The money raised last night will help them continue their work, something for which I’m personally thankful for.

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