Daniela Zacconi and Suzanne Hargin came together from different sides of the ballroom, giving each other a huge hug before grabbing each others hands and proudly walking to the stage to receive recognition for their outstanding contribution to the homeless animals of Langley on Saturday night.
Dressed in roaring ‘20s attire, like much of the 450-person crowd at the eighth Furry Tail Endings Gala, this duo was select to share the annual Patti Dale award of excellence.
Each year, during the organization’s themed fundraiser, Langley Animal Protection Society executive director Sean Baker hands out thanks to a number of volunteers who help ensure the ongoing success.
“How should we measure our success?” Baker queried.
“Is it by the number of adoptions we do? Is it by the number of cats we trap and neuter? Is it by the number of programs we have or the donations we take in? If you ask me, I don’t know. There just isn’t a single measure that tells the whole story. But what I do know is we are having an impact on the people in this community.”
Through no conscious effort, the LAPS team is motivating people to stand up and take action for what is important, Baker said, adding that was just the shelter namesake, the Patti Dale, wanted.
During the celebration at Cascades Casino this weekend, he presented thanks to “five amazing ladies who have gone above and beyond in raising funds and awareness for LAPS this year.”
He called Karen Hunt, Ildi Hards, Lawana Quest, Sue McNellis, and Shelly Roche, describing them as heroes.
“And what is most impressive is they have done it on their own. From running 10 km, to auctioning vacation homes, soliciting clients, selling stuff online and being Internet sensations, they have done what it takes to get results,” he said.
He also thanked Ken McBride, who was recognized the year before for having raised more than $75,000 in spare change. He continued what Baker described as a “crusade” this past year and raised a further $12,000, with a goal of retiring from his volunteer roll with the shelter when he reaches $250,000.
Five-year service awards were also given to people that Baker described as “a great” team.
“Although people adopting may only have contact with one person or two people, there is an army behind the scenes working tirelessly to make every second chance come true. And this army is doing things that no one would classify as glamorous. But they do it because it needs to get done,” he said.
“Since opening our doors, we have never had a shortage of amazing people ready and willing to make something special happen. They have given the most precious gift of all, their time,” he said, acknowledging Stacey Kosturos, Alexa and Steve Butschler, Harvey Hopkins, Margaret Taylor, Lisa Davidson, Lisa Lambert, Ruth Anderson, Tim Major, Kathy Davidson, James Hoogland, Shannon Todd Booth, Costan Sam, and Kim Sam for five years of volunteer service to LAPS.
He also handed out accolades for 10 years of service to one LAPS volunteer, presenting what he called a “special inaugural Iron Knee” award to Pauline Markle calling her a “true hero for animals.”
The award has been created to recognize a “super “ volunteer who has made an unprecedented contribution of time.
“Specifically, this volunteer has walked more dogs than any other, she has walked more miles then can be counted and she has done so in all conditions. Her stamina and dedication is beyond compare and the contribution that she has made to the mental wellbeing of staff and shelter dogs is beyond measure. Day in and day out, it is a pleasure exchanging her car keys for kennel keys and seeing her head out the door with yet another friend for a lap on the Patti Dale Trail,” Baker said.
The biggest honour of the night, and what Baker described as his favourite part of the night, was the presentation of the Patti Dale award of excellence.
“Each year, the Patti Dale Award of Excellence is awarded to an outstanding volunteer who has truly gone the extra step to walk in Patti’s shoes. That is no small feet considering the significant contributions that Patti made to this community. For those of you who knew her, you will know exactly what I mean when I say that she was exceptional. And although her life was shorter than we all wanted, we will forever be grateful for the time we did have with her,” he explained to the crowded room of supporters.
More than 15 years after Dale first stepped foot in the derelict kennel to walk her first dog, and honouring someone who possesses the same leadership qualities and dedication to the animals, Baker presented the award to not one – but two – of the five shortlisted candidates, Hargin and Zacconi.
Dollars from the event were still being tabulated on Sunday, but Baker was hopeful, that for the first time, the LAPS Furry Tail Endings Gala could raise more than $100,000.
He noted there were more guests than ever before, the biggest wait list ever, and more silent auction items than LAPS had ever seen before.
• Stay tuned to the online and print editions of the Langley Advance for more on the gala.