BANNER ELK — In a blowout success, Avery County Humane Society managed to rake about $25,000 at a luncheon held in honor of Rachel Deal, who just turned 90 years old.

The event on Aug. 22 at Stonewalls Restaurant in Banner Elk featured puppies, silent and live auctions, food, adoptable dog cakes and speakers to let everyone in on what Deal has done for the humane society and the county.

Deal, a longtime Crossnore resident and volunteer for a number of causes in Avery County, was front and center for one of her favorite organizations.

The event sold 130 tickets, which would already have resulted in a $5,000 profit for the Humane Society. Adding in auction sales, donations, “adopted” cakes and bottles of wine, and the event ended up being more of a success than anticipated.

“It was oversold,” Humane Society Executive Director Gwynne Dyer said.

The humane society also raised money by putting together a memory book, which different organizations in the area purchased space for messages to Deal.

The funds will all go to the humane society’s programs.

A number of notable county residents came out to say a few words and honor Deal. Jesse Pope of Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, local celebrity Tommy Burleson, Crossnore Mayor Jesse Smith and others all had things to say about Deal’s decades of volunteer service and her role in the community.

The humane society cares for about 100 animals at a time, and is a no-kill shelter, something Dyer said is a distinction only a few shelters in the state have.

Dyer also spoke during the lunch, telling a story about Brutus, a large dog who was great with people but could not interact with other dogs. Brutus required a special owner with no other animals who could also handle the dog on walks. After a long stay at the shelter and a lot of care, someone who could meet Brutus’ needs finally adopted him.

The humane society does not receive any public funding from the state or county, being completely funded by private donations and fundraising, and provides low-cost vaccination clinics, spay and neutering, and will even fix and vaccinate outdoor cats at no cost.

“Everybody’s support and kindness, we can’t thank you enough,” Dyer said tearfully.

Deal said everyone had at the event had made her so happy.

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