“It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning,” said Virginia Rice, who attended with her dog, a Doberman named Griffin. “It’s a shorter relay, and it’s fun to do.”
When the woofing and yapping finally fell silent, the inaugural event had raised an estimated $660 to augment the $116,000 garnered at Antioch’s Relay for Life in June. All funds raised benefit the American Cancer Society, which has fought since 1913 to help people prevent cancer, beat it and find a cure for the disease.
Although the turnout for Bark For Life was less than anticipated, neither the human attendees nor their furry friends cared. “This is absolutely wonderful,” said Cydney Hammett, who served as judge for the event’s numerous contests.
Although dogs are banned at Relay for Life events – one of the reasons Bark For Life was created by the American Cancer Society – no person or animal was left out Saturday.
The small but boisterous crowd recreated Relay For Life – complete with a survivors lap to celebrate those who have won life-altering victories over cancer – and finished the event with a luminaria ceremony.
For many of the attendees, dogs came into their lives as pets, but will leave as miracle workers for their companionship through some of life’s toughest battles. Dogs have the uncanny ability to cheer up the ill, said Mimi Stofer, who owns a therapy dog that travels to various places to lift spirits.
“It’s important for us to celebrate dogs both as caregivers and survivors,” said American Cancer Society Staff Partner Lindsay Davies.
Some dogs were laboring by the end of the 4½-hour event, but early on – in contests for Oldest, Youngest, Biggest, Smallest and Best-dressed – the energy was full throttle. Griffin, a Doberman, took home the prize for the biggest dog, then asserted his dominance during Musical Sits, a spinoff of Musical Chairs.
“It’s a smaller turnout, but we’re having fun,” said Antioch Relay Event Chair Michele Littlefield, who expects Bark For Life to become an annual event supplementing Relay For Life. For more information about Bark For Life events and the American Cancer Society, visit http://bit.ly/GVUFjv.