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Foundation News

Helium Comedy Club Fundraiser

Chris Rico

As mentioned in our previous newsletter, a fundraiser for AES was held last month at The Helium Club in Buffalo, NY.

Since there are no California Pizza Kitchen restaurants (or even Asian elephants) in western New York, some of us were feeling left out of the AES Annual April ‘Pizza for Pachyderms’ fundraising event. Mindy Ussrey, former Buffalo Zoo Elephant Manager thought of an alternative that resulted in raising $535 for AES on Saturday May 18, 2019. Mindy worked in conjunction with a local Buffalo, NY comedy club ‘The Helium’ to host an event before one of their performances. The Helium allowed us to receive a portion of the tickets sales that we sold as well as provided a table for us to promote and raise more funds for AES.

So even though the two Buffalo Zoo Asian elephants Jothi and Surapa had relocated to New Orleans earlier in the year, their former manager Mindy initiated, organized, and set up a very successful fundraiser for AES. She had support from a very generous Seneca Park Zoo (SPZ), SPZ Assistant Curator Lindsay Brinda, and the four SPZ African elephants – Chana, Moki, Genny C, and Lilac. Lindsay not only helped in selling an amazing number of tickets to the event but also provided elephant paintings for sale to the public. AES Board member Janet Dray supported the event by sewing and selling embroidered laptop cases and recycled tote bags as well as provided items for an AES gift basket raffle. We also sold AES bumper stickers and handed out AES brochures.

Including the entertainment it was a very fun evening with friends, family and coworkers supporting AES through ticket sales, 50/50 raffle, gift basket raffle, item sales and donations. As an additional benefit – Mindy created a wonderful AES information display which we plan to reuse for more outreach opportunities. Huge thanks to Mindy Ussrey and Lindsay Brinda along with Buffalo zookeepers Steve Ussrey and Gary Steele for making this a wildly successful evening. Your enthusiasm and commitment in supporting AES is inspiring, contagious and very much appreciated.

Thinking outside of the box, there are many ways to support AES fundraising efforts and have fun even if there are no CPKs in your location. We are looking forward to seeing more ideas on how people are raising funds in support of AES efforts.