2011 Fur Ball breaks records, St. Jude hosts luncheon and fashion show

There were lots of wagging tails and happy meows at the Drake Hotel for the 10th annual Fur Ball benefiting PAWS (Pets are Worth Saving) Chicago. With more than 650 people and 200 pets, this black-tie gala was the largest in the organization's history.

The evening began with costumed pets and their human companions posing for red carpet photos before heading into the cocktail reception. Dogs were treated to a buffet, animal communicator Debbie Weaver, portraitist Rosemary Fanti and their own spa complete with masseuses.

The pet owners ate dinner in the Gold Coast Room with an extensive live and silent auction that included a portrait by Victor Skrebneski that raised $31,000, an evening at the 2012 Grammy Awards ($25,000) and the chance to have your pet on the cover of the PAWS' 2013 desktop calendar ($38,000). Founder Paula Fasseas said, "The success of this year's Fur Ball directly translates into PAWS Chicago being able to increase the number of animals we save. With no government funding, we are reliant on support from the animal-loving community." This year's Fur Ball raised $750,000 — $150,000 more than last year. Judith Blazer, a five-year board member who helped build the Adoption Center as well as the Senior Cat Room and Community Room, donated another $1 million, which will go toward growth and sustaining operations.

Founded in 1997, PAWS is the first state-of-the-art, cageless, no-kill animal shelter in the Midwest. Ten years ago when the Fur Ball started, PAWS was adopting out 400 animals a year. This year, the organization will exceed 4,200 adoptions.

St. Jude "Dream a Little Dream" fashion show

The 17th Annual "Dream a Little Dream" luncheon and fashion show brought out a sell-out crowd of 1500 supporters to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The day included a champagne reception, free makeup stations and hairstyling plus a dynamic fashion show produced by ZZazz Productions. The high energy show presented collections from York Furrier, BCBG, Nade Baer, Elda de la Rosa, Luca Luca and Neiman Marcus, among others, and also featured Swarovski jewelry. A show highlight was a collection by Peach Carr, a "Project Runway" season 8 contestant. Emcee Allison Rosati (NBC) introduced a touching video of the host family,Michael and Annie Brady, and their son Michael's heroic struggles and recovery.

Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers.

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