When my husband and I arrived at the Perfect Pair a few minutes early, the large event room at The Hof was pretty empty. But you could almost hear a low hum of anticipation as Dr. Chelsea Mason, VET Fund’s founder and executive director, signed in the steady stream of guests, and co-chairs, Jimmy Comer and Crystal Lowery, made final preparations in a corner of the room.

All of a sudden, guests, who were all dressed up and ready to have a good time, started pouring in. As people greeted their friends, bought raffle tickets and found seats at the long picnic-style tables, the excitement in the air became palpable.

Part of the exhilaration stemmed from the fact this was the new nonprofit’s first major fundraiser of 2018, and the event had already met its original goal. A few days before, the event had sold out, with 56 tickets sold and $1,200 raised for RVA animals. Plus, more than 10 local businesses had sponsored the Perfect Pair, both through monetary contributions or items donated to the basket of Valentine’s goodies being raffled off. Not to mention, VET Fund was ready to roll out its brand-new, very cool (“Virginia is for dog/cat lovers”) t-shirts for sale.

But the night of the event, the elation was much bigger than goals met, and dollars raised. It was the culmination of Dr. Mason’s two-year-long labor of love to help those sick and injured animals in RVA whose owners simply couldn’t afford the medical care to save their lives. This event was a validation of sorts for Chelsea and proved that her mission was relevant, and the community was solidly behind her.

No matter how important the mission though, an event won’t be a success unless it’s fun. And the Perfect Pair scored high in that category too! Perfect Pair guests, who ranged from couples enjoying early Valentine’s celebrations to groups of friends, sampled five wines or beers paired with delicious cheeses, capped off by a scrumptious chocolate courtesy of Gearharts Chocolates. All of the wines, cheeses and chocolates were described on an accompanying handout to help guests recall their favorites later.

While the pairings were the main event, the highlight of the evening was when one of the nonprofit’s beneficiaries, Christen Johnson, told the story of her dog, Nightwing, who was dragged by a truck and needed an expensive surgery to close severe wounds. After Christen contacted 22 other organizations for help, VET Fund stepped in and saved the dog’s life. Just a few weeks later, Nightwing is bandage-free and home with his family.

Thanks to the funds raised at this event, VET Fund will be able to help two more deserving animals like Nightwing and save two more families the heart-wrenching decision of whether they can afford to save their precious pets’ lives. Donate to VET Fund today.