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Comedian Susan Jones (on left) kept everyone, including emcee Jenn Dalen from The One FM, in stitches all night long.

    The County of Leduc Animal Shelter Society celebrated their first anniversary by holding their first annual Gala on Friday November 29th. Held in the Nisku Inn and emceed by radio personality Jenn Dalen from 93.1 The One FM, the event was a sold out affair.    

    The mood was set as soon as you entered the room with gorgeous decor, lowered lighting, and candles glittering off faux jewels scattered on each table. However, one of the biggest draws for the eye were the silent auction tables loaded down with almost 100 items available for bidding, including everything from a BBQ, to jewellery, to myriad gift certificates and even wine glasses hand etched with hearts and paw prints paired with bottles of wine that were shaped like cats!

    To open the evening, Lyn Cardus, the President and Founder of CLASS, approached the microphone to give a truly exciting announcement, sharing that the group had succeeded in achieving their registered charity status just a few days prior to the Gala. "I cannot tell you how much this means to us!" said Lyn. "We have been waiting and hoping to receive this news for many months now and to get the news in time to be able to announce it at the Gala is so special!" This status means that CLASS is now eligible to apply for private industry and government grants that will enable them to see their dream of becoming Leduc and County's Humane Society become a reality that much sooner.

    Once everyone had sated their appetite with the fabulous buffet prepared by the Nisku Inn's talented chefs the night took a hilarious turn with comedians from the Raise The Woof Comedy Troupe taking over the stage. Susan Jones, James Moore, and Lamont Ferguson literally had the audience just about screaming with laughter and wiping away many a tear for the rest of the night. 

The Raise The Woof comedians were the perfect choice for this cause as every comedian who joins the troupe are all huge animal lovers and the troupe's mandate is that they only work for animal related charities and causes. This particular group of comedians had travelled from Seattle specifically to entertain at the CLASS Gala and Susan even brought her two dogs with her.  

    During the intermission between comedians the secret entertainment for the evening wowed the audience with professional bellydance duo "US" dazzling the crowd with their beautiful costumes and mesmerizing movements. The first dancer brought out a silver set of fabric "wings" and proceeded to spin, twirl and undulate across the stage with the wings flowing around her to give an amazingly beautiful effect. Both dancers then did a veil dance which held the everyone in the room in a seeming thrall. Throughout their routine the ladies had the audience alternating between clapping along with the energetic music and sitting in wide eyed amazement with a few attendees being seen to mouth the word "Wow!" during the performance.

    After the dancers exited the room to a loud round of applause, Jenn and Susan retook the stage to run the single item live auction for the night. A gorgeous hand made, solid oak Deacons Bench worth $500.00 had been donated and had drawn a lot of interest throughout the evening. County Councillor, Clay Stumph, was the triumphant bidder and took away a lovely piece of furniture to grace his home.

    After the intermission and final mad rush of bidding on the silent auction items, headliner Lamont Ferguson stepped up on stage and finished off the night in fine form. An Emmy nominated comedian who has opened for the likes of George Carlin, Steve Harvey and the legendary Bill Cosby, it was a real coupe to be able to bring him to Leduc. An American by birth, Lamont's act centred around his love and admiration of Canadians while at the same time not understanding how we continue to live in a place with such extreme weather. He hilariously expressed his respect for the people who live here by sharing his opinion that we are actually insane because we are PROUD of the fact we live in a place that regularly hits -40 every year and has weather anomalies such a "freezing fog".     

    The evening drew to a close with a big thank you to the sponsors: For Paws Grooming, Leduc Animal Clinic, Moreau & Company Barristers at Law, Got Nailed Esthetics, 93.1 The One FM, and CLASS's first benefactor Leonard Theberge. Leonel recently lost his battle with cancer and requested that instead of flowers, donations be given to a local animal charity and his family decided on CLASS as their charity of choice. Several members of Leonel's family were in attendance at the Gala and were very touched by the expressions of gratitude for Leonel, including the fact that in the program the evening had been dedicated to his memory.    

    All of the hard work done by this dedicated group of volunteers paid off at the end of the night when it was announced that due to the generosity of everyone attending the Gala CLASS had managed to raise almost $6,000.00. These funds will be put toward securing a building somewhere within the County so that stray and homeless animals will have a safe haven until they find their forever homes. 

    For anyone who would like to get involved with this important and growing initiative, or would like to make a donation to help animals within Leduc and County, please contact Lyn Cardus at 780-980-5327.