Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mercy for Animals' Honoring Hidden Heroes Party w/ Bob Barker

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: MFA's Honoring Hidden Heros Party
Where: The Hollywood Hills home of James Costa
When: Saturday, June 4, 2011
Why: Donations of various kinds

The Scoop: I've heard that it is better to give than receive, and given the opportunity to sponsor anything Mercy for Animals does is pretty much a no-brainer these days. When VegNews learned that Team MFA was throwing itself a party ... to honor their undercover factory farm investigators ... at James Costa's stunning home in the hills above (and overlooking) Hollywood ... and that 87-year-old game show legend Bob Barker was going to be the guest of honor, we just had to "come on down." Um, sorry.

Joseph Connelly, Bob Barker, and Nathan Runkle
(photo courtesy of David Sobel Photography)

We jumped on board because pound-for-pound no organization is doing as much as MFA, with seemingly endless undercover investigations generating press, exposing the horrors of factory farming, and often leading to charges against the morons who kick cattle, punch pigs, and choke chickens.

Founded less than 12 years ago by then-15-year-old Nathan Runkle, MFA has fast become a force to be reckoned with. The org does so much it's nearly impossible to keep up. In addition to the undercover investigations, there's its Farm to Fridge Tour, dishing up viewings of their DVD of the same name in public places; its use of both traditional and social media to reach millions with messages of compassion; and rapid expansion, from humble beginnings in an Ohio attic to offices in Chicago (the group's HQ), New York, Columbus, OH, and most recently Dallas.

Don't take my word for it. A who's-who of animal supporters made the trek, many from across the country, including author Victoria Moran, animal-rights attorney David Wolfson, and activist extraordinaire (and birthday gal) Ashley Lou Smith (all New Yorkers). Here's Ash spotted with Mr. Barker's right-hand man, the equally charming Henri Bollinger.

Ashley Lou Smith with Henri Bollinger

Since this was Hollywood, what would a party be without filmmakers? I counted four: The always beautiful (and 2008 VegNews wedding bride) Marisa Miller Wolfson (creator of the forthcoming Vegucated), the equally stunning Shannon Keith (Behind the Mask, Skin Trade), buff and tanned Shaun Monson (Earthlings), and NKOTB Brian Wendel, the force behind 2011's must-see Forks Over Knives.

Passed savory and sweet hors d'oeuvres from Veganics Catering included Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas, Nuttin' but Nut Cashew Cheeze Balls, Dark Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Delites, plus Snickerdoodle and Raspberry Shortbread Cookies. All were tasty and plentiful.

What do vegans eat? How about Dark Chocolate Raspberry Fudge Delites!

And finally there was the evening's program. Bob Barker spoke about the effectiveness of MFA's work, encouraged us all to break into laboratories, reminded us to spay and neuter our companion animals, and then presented MFA with a check for $250,000 to help fund its undercover work. VegNews wanted to match the donation, but we fell slightly short. A bit later, Nathan allowed me to briefly hold the check (you'd be amazed what it feels like to have a quarter-million dollars in your hands) before introducing me to his father, Mark Runkle. Standing next to me at that moment was Jenny Brown, co-founder and firebrand of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. When Jenny learned of Mark's identity, she shouted "Thanks for the sperm!" A different kind of donation maybe, but given what Nathan and MFA have accomplished, without a doubt just as valuable.


Victoria Moran said...

It was totally the best party. I loved how people from so many organizations and so many aspects of the vegan/AR worlds were represented. And it was fun seeing you, Joseph!

FriendsForSeals.Org said...

Mercy for Animals Hidden Heroes event was spectacular and informative.
From Bob Barker's inspiring message, to the news from the crew that gets down and dirty, we loved every minute of it! James Costa is so gracious, and everyone that participated was just lovely.

Denise Perrin, Founder