Have a Heart Ball

by Michelle Gross

Thanks to the many dog lovers in attendance at the second Have-A-Heart Ball held in New York's Plaza Hotel, $30,000 was raised and has now been donated to The AKC's charitable program, DOGNY 1 America's Tribute to Search and Rescue Dogs.

On February 9, 2003, Joseph McGinnis and Duane Doll of Showsight Magazine and co-founders of Have-A-Heart, along with Keith and Cheryl Robbins, Sheila and Rome Cormier, Dan and Carol Greenwald and Carolyn Coch, hosted the festive gala leading up to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Formerly known as the Red Eye Reception, the name of the gala was changed to the Have-A-Heart Ball in light of the events of September 11, 2001. When asked why he chose to support Search and Rescue, McGinnis' response was simple "When watching footage of the World Trade Center cleanup, I focused in on a search and rescue dog and knew right then that I wanted to do something."

The response to the ball was unprecedented, filling one of New York's largest party rooms to capacity! The incredible turnout reflected the care and support that those involved in the fancy show for each other and for DOGNY and Take The Lead.

The expenses for the ball were underwritten by the hosts, allowing proceeds to be raised through a raffle, an auction and admission donations. The most impressive item on the auction block was the "Have-A-Heart Diamond" was specially designed for the event. Auctioned off by Mitchell Fink, author of Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11, 2001, the necklace went to Carol Oakes for an impressive $16,500.

The total proceeds of $65,000 surpassed the amount raised the past year, as well as everyone's expectations. $30,000 was generously contributed to DOGNY and will aid in funding canine Search and Rescue organizations throughout the United States. A large portion of the proceeds is earmarked for Take the Lead, an organization funded by dog fanciers, for dog fanciers who face catastrophic illness or events.

Not only has Joe McGinnis raised awareness and money for DOGNY through Have-A-Heart, but he also owns one of the DOGNY statues. His statue "You Have Touched Our Hearts" greeted guests as they entered the party.

There were moments during the evening when tears were in the eyes of all those in attendance. Seeing the Search and Rescue dogs with their handlers stirred memories and emotions, but the camaraderie and love that was present gave way for an evening of fun and festivity. The American Kennel Club is grateful to all those who made Have a Heart Ball the great success that it was.