Black Tie and Tails Ball

Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild. A 501(c)3 organization is one that does not run off of state or government funding, but that of donations and charitable giving. In an effort to support our greater than $750,000 annual budget, we host the Black Tie and Tails Ball every year to raise funds and awareness for the cats at Carolina Tiger Rescue.

Although this is not the only event we host, it is by far the largest and most talked about. Foremost, what a ton of fun! This year's third annual ball was hosted in Durham with the theme "Journey to India" in recognition and celebration of the history of tigers (it is, after all, the Year of the Tiger). It was a no-brainer that I was going to volunteer at this event, being that it easily combined two of my favorite things in the entire world: cats and fashion. What more could any young woman ask for than to contribute to the conservation of endangered cats and look awesome while doing it? If you haven't guessed, I am talking about saris! Saris are the beautiful Indian dresses worn by Indian women for centuries and the reason I am obsessed with Bollywood. Luckily,  I was able to borrow an authentic, traditional sari from a good friend so I would fit in for the night:

Practicing my swing on head curator Kathryn Burtok and development director Jennifer Brunk
My job for the evening was to greet guests in the traditional Indian fashion of being sprinkled with rose water. Careful to avoid silk, I had so much fun helping guests get excited for the silent and live auctions prepared for the evening. In the hour before dinner, guests bidded during the silent portion on various packages, events, and items donated for the cause. More than a few bidding competitions ensued, and everyone had a blast bidding and giving for the cats. During dinner, a traditional Indian dance group called the "Desi Girls" performed (please visit our facebook via the link at the top of the page for pictures of the entire evening), and afterwards the live auction began! The only experience I have with auctions is being able to talk as fast as the auctioneer, so I was on my toes working as a spotter for the bids flying around the room. From vacation getaways to hot air balloon rides to candlelit dinners in the garden at Carolina Tiger Rescue, our guests were amazing in their need to contribute to our animals. In addition to the auction items, we also raised money for our Fund A Cause, which was this year to raise $5000.00 for veterinary supplies and to help support our new part-time veterinarian Dr. Lassiter. With the doctor dragged on stage to help cheer on the bids, and with one non-bidding volunteer suddenly deciding to commit $1000, we raised over our mark!

The black tie event raised almost $20,000.00 for the animals at Carolina Tiger Rescue! Although I resisted the urge to buy, well, everything, I was blown away by the generosity of individuals who donated their vacation homes or services for our organization. A few individuals decided to offer their vacation homes for a weeklong vacation package in the middle of the auction! I was particularly fond of a few of the paintings commissioned by fans of our cats, and I plan to get back on track with my own paintings (perhaps next year you will see one of my own available during the event!). We were also lucky to have with us auctioneer Matt Holiday as well as NBC 17 news anchor Donald Jones (both are big fans of our animals!). The Indian-themed marketplace featured beautiful decor as well as games and picture opportunities for guests. One game included the purchase of a ticket for the chance to win one of three precious gems, while another offered prizes such as handmade locket and charm bracelet pieces with pictures of Carolina Tiger animals. Everyone looked great and had an amazing time contributing.

With the combined help of amazing staff and volunteers, sponsors, and the graciousness of our guests, we are able to care for the animals at Carolina Tiger Rescue! Thank you so much for supporting Carolina Tiger Rescue and for helping us have a blast with conservation!

The Desi Girls perform

Art and photography of our cats was auctioned during the event