Gala raises money for disabled vets, rescued dogs

Published on Friday, 7 September 2018 19:56
Written by Karla Santos


MIDDLETOWN - The second annual Charity Gala by the Forever in my Heart Foundation will be held on Sept. 16 at Marquee Events in Hartford.

The purpose of the gala is to raise funds to train rescued dogs and give them to disabled veterans.

“So many veterans coming back from deployments suffer from psychological disorders and besides medications and therapy, there is not much more offered to them,” Mira Alicki, founder of Forever in my Heart, said. 

“Few lucky ones that do have a service dog have shown an amazing transformation. Those dogs can turn their lives around and since those are the people that fight for our freedom and are keeping us safe, who deserves the dogs more than them? And if we can take a dog with a past, give him a second chance in life and train them to improve the life of another human, what’s better than that? Changing two lives at a time the dog’s and the veteran’s.”

The event will take place from 3 to 8:30 p.m. at 960 Main St, Hartford.

The gala is a formal, high-end event that will include a red carpet and photo opportunity.

Tickets include food from Belvedere Cafe and Restaurant.

Appetizers, dinner, and dessert will be served.

Ela Konferowiecz is the general manager of Belvedere Cafe and Restaurant, which also catered the event last year.

“This is our honor that we can prepare the food, and it will be either vegetarian or vegan so it’s probably a little different, but we would like to show that since we are supporting dogs and animals, our food will have no meat,” Konferowiecz said. “We are hoping we have the same success of last year with everything.”

The event will also have a live and silent auction.

Scot Haney, WFSB meteorologist, will be hosting the Gala.

Renee DiNino, of iHeart Media, will be the announcer and the speaker of the night will be William Berloni, who trains dogs for Hollywood movies and Broadway shows.

Tickets cost $85 per person or $750 for a table of 10.

Forever in my Heart Foundation was established at the beginning of the year in Middletown, after Alicki realized the exorbitant cost of a service dog, which could be up to $18,000.

The foundation gives the trained dogs to veterans who are diagnosed or have a referral from the Veterans Hospital.

In addition, the foundation goes through a screening process of the household and finances of the qualifying veterans to make sure they can afford to keep the dog in good condition.

Once the foundation gives the dogs to the veterans, the recipients are responsible for the dog’s food and veterinary care.

The foundation pays for dogs to be trained in either mobility service or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other psychological illnesses.

The foundation already has five dogs in the training process.

“On average it would cost us about $10,000 to train each dog,” Alicki said. “The more money we raise, the more dogs we can train.”

Yuliya Vasilenko, of Southington, is a supporter of the cause who attended the event last year, and plans on returning this year.

“This organization helps those who protect us on a daily basis, the veterans who serve for us,” Vasilenko said. “If this foundation helps them, especially if they help animals as well that don’t have a voice, that’s doubling the good cause.”

To learn more about the Charity Gala visit .

Karla Santos can be reached at 860-801-5079 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News on Friday, 7 September 2018 19:56. Updated: Friday, 7 September 2018 19:59.