There are lots of reasons I love living in San Diego. I could go on about it for days- the weather, the pet friendly atmosphere, the tacos… but today, I’m particularly grateful that I live in the same town as the Petco headquarters. For the second year, I was fortunate enough to be extended an invitation to the Petco Foundation Hope Gala. At this weekend’s fourth annual gala, the recipient of the Petco Foundation HOPE Award, which celebrates the spirit of hope through a life dedicated to promoting the pet human bond, was none other than the inimitable Ms. Betty White.
This is a woman who has had a long and successful career. At ninety, she’s got every right to sit back, ignore the rest of the world, and enjoy whatever it is she likes to hang around doing most. And yet here she is, not only working on a sitcom and multiple other projects, but she’s also continuing her life’s passion as an animal advocate. The proceeds from the gala, which had surpassed a couple hundred thousand dollars just based on the auction items alone, will go to Actors and Others for Animals, a California non-profit dear to Betty that provides spay/neuter funds and emergency assistance for pets across the state.
Like all good galas, there were tables upon tables of items for people to bid on in the silent auction portion of the event. Unsurprisingly at a Petco event populated by animal lovers, there was a particularly large section for the Pet items. (I tried to get my husband to bid on the 5 day trip to Paris for the Julia Child experience at Le Cordon Bleu, but no dice.)
Talented and lovely local artist Katy Helen of Katy Helen Art was there with a portfolio of her lively and expressive pet portraiture, and to add to the ambiance was actually working on a recent commission while she was at the gala. What a cool sort of energy to go into a portrait. 🙂 (I also found out from her website that she does custom millinery, which given my fascination with fascinators could be a very dangerous piece of information for me to have at hand.) P.S. Her prices for custom pieces are really good.
And then there was the lady of the hour herself, Betty White. She didn’t come alone- Doris Roberts walked not three feet behind my chair, jaunty in a bright red suit; Ed Asner was there to offer support as well. The crowd was notably appreciative of this esteemed group of comedy legends.
And Betty didn’t disappoint. After the applause from her standing ovation died down enough for her to talk, she spoke to a rapt group about her love of animals that she’s had “for 90 years,” she said, then- “longer than 90 years, really- since the womb.” I recorded a bit of it, if you want to see how effortlessly she can throw in ad libs. 0:22 and 1:15 are my favorite moments. Love this witty woman.
After Betty spoke, Petco Foundation Executive Director Paul Jolly spoke from the heart about a special dog named Wonder, who touched his life all too briefly when he rescued her from the street only to find out she was in massive organ failure. I stared down at my plate while he spoke, thinking that after all these years hearing sad stories I should be able to hear one without sniffling, but who am I kidding. I always sniffle, and I always will.
And so did everyone else around me. That’s why everyone was there, because they care. And the generosity of those in attendance will make a real difference for many thousands of animals in the state. So thank you to Petco for the generous invitation, and to Betty for proving to me that there is no upper age limit for giving back, no need to ever retire from the job of making life better for others.