The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

August 31, 2013

Canines join fight against cancer with fundraiser

BY MARY WICOFF mwicoff@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — DANVILLE — Animal lovers know the benefits of taking a daily walk with their best friends. Now, here’s a chance to enjoy that companionship while raising money for the American Cancer Society.

The first local Bark for Life will be from 8-11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at Espenscheid Park on North Kimball Street (off Voorhees). The city park features about 1 mile of mowed trails through a rolling meadow.

“It’s going to be a really good time,” said organizer Laura Bell of Covington, Ind., formerly of Danville. “I can’t stress enough that it’s for a good cause.”

Bark for Life is a spin-off of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Trent Reed, income development representative with the Cancer Society in Champaign, said Bark for Life has been going on for several years. The event has been staged in Champaign for some time, and has been successful. This is the first time it’s being held in Vermilion County.

At Relay for Life, cancer survivors bring their caregivers to the rally. Dogs aren’t allowed at that event, so Bark for Life was started to honor dogs as caregivers, he said.

“For a lot of people, an animal is the main caregiver, or best friend, in general,” Reed said. “This is an opportunity for volunteers to bring dogs to help raise funds.”

Bell agreed, saying, “It honors the caregiving that canines do for patients. We use canines in the care and recovery of cancer survivors.”

The event is open to everyone who’d like to help the Cancer Society raise funds. All money from the registration fee and most vendors will go to the organization.

Bell said she got the idea to put on Bark for Life in honor of her parents, Greg and Judy Donath of Danville. Her mother is a two-year survivor of breast cancer, and her father is a one-year survivor of lung cancer.

She approached the Cancer Society, which set up a website for her (www.relayforlife.org/BarkVermilionIL).

The pre-registration fee of $25 (or $40 for two dogs) gives people access to all of the morning activities. Owners and their dogs will be able to walk the trails at the park, visit the vendors’ tables, watch obedience demonstrations and take part in contests.

If you don’t want to bring your own dog, Bell said CARA (a no-kill shelter) will have dogs that need to be walked.

The event will start at 8 a.m. with an opening ceremony, with Mayor Scott Eisenhauer speaking. Greg Donath, an ordained minister, will bless the animals. Coffee and donuts will be for sale.

A costume contest will start about 9 a.m. Dogs can dress up however they like, and also enter other contests, such as cutest tail wagger and owner/dog look-alike.

Stateline Hillcrest Animal Hospital will clip dogs’ nails at no charge. Ron Payne of St. Joseph will take pet photos for a fee.

Obedience demonstrations will be offered, as well, within the fenced Fetch Dog Park. The dog park is located within Espenscheid Park.

Bell said she and her helpers are collecting donations for raffles.

The event will be held rain or shine. Dogs must be on a leash, and must have vaccines up to date. People must clean up after their pets.

Besides helping the Cancer Society, Bell said of the event, “It’s time well spent with your four-legged best friend.”

Bell also is founder of Beauty of Hope, a nonprofit pageant that raises money for families in need. Girls who have won the contest have been helping Bell put on Bark for Life.

How to get there

Turn north onto North Kimball Street from East Voorhees at MH Equipment Co., and follow signs to Fetch Dog Park. The park is located at the end of the dirt lane.

FYI To register or to sign up as a vendor, go to www.relayforlife.org/BarkVermilionIL or call Laura Bell at (765) 277-1254 or e-mail laura-bell@att.net. Pre-registration cost is $25; on the day of the event, the cost is $35. Register two dogs for $40 (or day of event, $60). All proceeds go to the Cancer Society.