ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Members and supporters of the St. Louis Balloon Brigade were on hand at Just John in the Grove on Sunday for an Ice Cream Social benefit and the presentation of a $2,912.05 donation to PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) St. Louis.

The money was raised via photos  with Brigade member at St. Charles, and St. Louis PrideFests, in addition to Homo Bingo and Sunday's social benefit.

"The Brigade would like to thank all those who took pictures, ate ice cream, and donated money to a wonderful cause," the Brigade posted on Facebook, noting they were just shy of their $3K goal. "There is still time to make a donation to PAWS. If you would like to help us reach our goal please mail a check made out to: St. Louis Effort for AIDS, 1027 S. Vandeventer Ave., Ste 700, St. Louis, MO 63110. Memo the check to St. Louis Balloon Brigade/PAWS. Again, Thank you St. Louis!"

The Balloon Brigade is the brainchild of Terry Laupp and his husband Chad Carroll, owners of the Mr. Missouri Leather contest. The duo saw pictures online and reimagined the intricate balloon wraps for a cruise they were on in 2008. The response was immediate and the next year they debuted in the St. Louis Pride Parade.

The Brigade or “Balloon Gods” immediately became one of the most photographed personalities at Pride (75+ members and 11K+ balloons and counting) and quickly realized the fundraising potential for a charity near to their hearts if they requested donations for the myriad photo requests.

PAWS is the only program of its kind in St. Louis; providing pet food and veterinary care for the pets of clients who are living with HIV/AIDS. By providing this support, people with a chronic and often debilitating illness are able to keep their pets at home as long as possible. PAWS helps maintain a lasting connection between client and pets.

“I fell in love with the program because I thought that it was something that was extremely viable – something that really performed a service to the people it served,” said Laupp of PAWS in a previous interview. “I can’t ever imagine myself having to make the decision: one, do I get my own meds or do I go to the doctor myself or do I take my pet to the doctor? I don’t think that’s a decision that anyone should have to make. If we can do this and alleviate all of that is one of the reasons it’s so important to me.”

Make sure to check out the two upcoming fundraisers benefitting PAWS - Art of PAWS on Aug. 26 at Gallery 400 - and Thirst for Life on Aug. 31 at a watering hole near you!



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