TROY — Dogs all over the county will have something to bark about come May.
They can have a little outside fun with fellow pups — and raise some much-needed funding for their human counterparts — when the Fourth annual Bark For Life of Miami County event is held May 14 at Paul G. Duke Park Bark Park, Troy.
The American Cancer Society Bark For Life is a noncompetitive walk event for dogs and their owners to raise funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society’s fight against cancer. Bark For Life honors the lifelong contributions of canine companions. It presents an opportunity for people to be empowered through their canine companion partnerships and to contribute to cancer cures through the mission of the American Cancer Society.
Jody Horrocks, publicity chair for the third year, said when she sat down and listed how cancer has affected her life, coupled with her love for her own dogs, she decided to get involved in the event several years ago. Horrocks, of Piqua, has lost many family members — her mother, father, brother-in-law, cousin and others — to the sometimes-deadly disease.
“I know that it really touches everybody in some way if they sit down and think about,” said Horrocks, who has one daughter and five grandchildren. “The fundraising is needed. The research is necessary. It’s saving and changing people’s lives.”
Horrocks said the Bark for Life event is an option for those interested in helping raise funds for the ACS, but who would like to include their dogs. She said county residents can bring their best canine friend and join others for a fun-filled day starting with a walk, then continuing with demonstrations, contests, food and games. In past years, Horrocks said the event has attracted around 10-20 teams and nearly 100 people and lasts about three hours. However, the small group of six to seven organizers would like to grow the event to an all-day affair packed with even more people and pooches.
“It’s really just an enjoyable couple hours to spend on a Saturday,” said Horrocks, who has been married to her husband David for nearly 40 years. “There’s nothing better than being able to have fun — with your dogs, even — and support a good cause.”
She said during the event, participants — some cancer survivors or friends and family of those who lost their battle — have emotional stories to tell. She remembers a man from last year’s event who was taking chemotherapy at the time for his cancer and wanted to walk, but didn’t have a dog. She said he went to the store and purchased a child’s pull-along stuffed dog toy and carried it through the approximate one-mile course.
“It was amazing to see,” said Horrocks, the owner of two dachshunds, Elvis and Hoss.
Each year, the team that raises the most money for the event gets to pick their favorite pooch to be the ambassador for the event. This year, the top team, Mountain Top Misfits, chose Kami as ambassador.
Horrocks said our four-legged friends oftentimes play a major role in helping their owners deal with the stress and pain of being sick with a disease like cancer. She said canine companions demonstrate unconditional love, joy, security, compassion, and no judgments of cancer survivors’ abilities or appearances.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. May 14. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Admission is $10 per dog online or $25 per dog the day of the event. Teams also can be formed and money raised. Those interested also may call (404) 653-5283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Horrocks said volunteers are still needed for this year’s event as well, including someone to help with doggie games, and those interested can leave a message on the event’s Facebook page and someone will get back to them quickly.
“Everybody’s wearing lots of hats so far this year,” said Horrocks, who works at Honda Engineering America in Anna.
Sponsor 105.5 TAM FM and Joe Laber will be broadcasting live at the event. Stoneyridge Veterinary Service will be donating their services. Several vendors also will be onsite during the event.
For more information, or to pre-register, go to www.RelayForLife.org/barkmiamioh or visit the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BarkForLifeOfMiamiCounty.
Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131.