Picasso Pets is Hand in Paw’s largest fundraiser and ensures that Animal-Assisted Therapy services can be delivered at no charge to over 75 facilities.
This year the Picasso Pets gala took place at the beautiful Grand Bohemian hotel in Mountain Brook. The gala opened with a wonderful silent auction that included many unique, can't-get-anywhere-else items such as a homemade quilt made from vintage Hand in Paw t-shirts! While browsing and bidding, guests sipped on yummy libations, met some of Hand in Paw's stellar Therapy Teams including Herbie the hairless cat, and examined the beautiful finished paintings made by pets in collaboration with local artists. Picasso Pets VIPs were treated to an exclusive VIP Room sponsored by Birmingham Legion F.C. which was located in The Grand Bohemian's Gallery. Here they enjoyed even more drink options and artwork displayed in the gallery.
The theme of the night and inspiration for the 2019 Face of Picasso Pets was the work of American artist Jeff Koons who is most well-known for his "Balloon Dog" sculptures. This fun and quirky theme made for some very unique and beautiful decorations which were designed by the Decorations Committee. All around the venue were balloon dog sculptures, luscious succulents, brightly colored flowers, and the Face of Picasso Pets, Trooper Yancey, incorporated on several items like the wine bottles and drink cups! Guests participated in the theme by wearing colorful cocktail attire and had their pictures taken at the John 3:16 photo booth which also prominently featured Trooper!
As the silent auction was nearing its close, guests made their way to the ballroom for the live auction program. Shannon Black and her 2 pups gave a quick prayer, then everyone enjoyed a delicious seated dinner. Dr. Jim & Mrs. Katie Lasker then went on the Tito's Handmade Vodka stage and announced the winner of the Tweety Lasker Award which is given each year to an organization that partners with Hand in Paw to serve the community with excellence. This year the award was given to St. Martin's in the Pines, a community partner who serves the elderly.
One of the evening's most anticipated moments was getting to see the completed Picasso Pets paintings which were made by pets belonging to prominent members of the community (with a little help from well-known local artists). Each Presenter came on stage with their dog while the Emcee, Morgan Murphy, spoke about their painting sessions. It was such a delight to see the dogs and owners proudly stand by their artwork.
Once the live auction officially got started by local philanthropist and supporter, Ken Jackson, things got really competitive! Items such as a one-of-a-kind Frank Flemming bronze statue and Dinner for 10 at the new Hot & Hot Fish Club were sold only after intense bidding wars finally concluded. Rounding out the night was the competition for the Last Paddle Up - the last donor of the evening won a prize of dinner and wine for 4 at Galley and Garden!
The evening ended with a thank you video and remarks by a very special Therapy Team, Libba Lovell & Penny. While Libba was a child undergoing cancer treatment she herself was visited by a Hand in Paw Therapy Team. This experience inspired her to become a Therapy Team so she could share the same comfort and joy that she experienced while ill with others.
We want to thank each and every one of the attendees, sponsors, volunteers, board members, and auction item donors for making Picasso Pets 2019 such a success. Your support brought in over $335,000 in event revenue, our HIGHEST GROSSING Picasso Pets ever!!
Currently Hand in Paw has 100 Animal-Assisted Therapy Teams serving in 79 facilities. Because of you, more teams will be trained and placed in additional facilities where they can reach the most vulnerable populations: seniors in nursing homes, terminally ill children and their families, troubled youth, physically disabled adults, and children with literacy issues.