Lake Mirror Goes to Dogs at 2021 SPCA Florida Walk For Animals
by James Coulter
Vely Pontoni loves her two dogs, Wilson (toy Aussie) and Astrid Border Collie). She received Astrid from an animal rescue, and Wilson from a pet store. Wilson was supposed to be sold at the store, but he could not be sold because he fractured his leg. Upon learning about Wilson’s predicament, Vely received him from a friend who worked at the store.
Since then, she and her two two-year-old dogs have been inseparable. Last Saturday, she not only attended the annual SPCA Florida Walk For Animals in Lakeland, but they won first place for overall fundraiser.
Vely and her dogs managed to raise $1,300 by walking the Frances Langford Promenade around Lake Mirror in Downtown Lakeland. With the help of a few other teams, she was even able to raise a combined $1,500.
“It feels really great,” she said. “I love supporting the animals. We have a heart for animals. We both do, me and my husband. We are active people, might as well walk and enjoy the animals.”
Vely won first place for raising the most funds as an individual participant. Winning first place for fundraising team was Team CAP Trust, headed by Deanna Keating. They raised more than $2,200.
Keating and her organization are clients with SPCA Florida. They consider it a great organization with an even greater cause of adopting out rescue pets from Polk County’s no-kill shelter.
Deanna owed their success that day to the overall beautiful weather, as well to the other attendees who participated that day.
“It feels amazing, awesome, a true team effort,” she said. “It is a beautiful day. It is a lot of fun, we are glad to be here, happy to help them.”
SPCA Florida hosted its 29th Annual Walk For Animals last Saturday in Downtown Lakeland. Dog owners and their furry companions will be able to walk around scenic Lake Mirror Promenade in Downtown Lakeland to help raise money and awareness for the organization.
Aside from the main walk, the event also hosted other activities including food trucks, children’s games, and even a costume contest. Krystal Wilds won the contest with Sassy, her Old English Bulldog, who was dressed as a Minion from Despicable Me.
Wilds loves being able to participate every year at the walk, though she was unable to attend last year due to the pandemic. She loves being able to see the other dogs and their owners there.
“We came two years ago since COVID happened,” she said. “We could not come last year. We wanted to come again. I thought it would be fun…It feels great. Sassy is happy about it. We love seeing the other dogs.”
Randa Richter, Media & Partnership Relations Manager for SPCA Florida, was impressed by the turnout this year. The fundraiser is normally hosted in spring, but was postponed until June due to COVID-19. Despite the ongoing pandemic and the summer heat, this year’s event did exceptionally well with its turnout.
“We are super happy with participants and everyone who attended,” Richter said. “I feel it is the support of the people who want to help the animals and help us grow and help the community grow…I love seeing the community coming together to support the voiceless. I just want to thank our vendors and sponsors for making this happen.”