Bark for Life, benefitting the American Cancer Society

Yesterday, Shenanigans and I had an excellent opportunity to shake up our training for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure - we participated in the Bark for Life event to benefit the American Cancer Society!  The volunteers explained to me that this was a test event for the American Cancer Society to see if they could take their successful Relay for Life formula and translate it into an event designed around our four legged pals.  The ACS recognizes the important role that our pets, and dogs in particular, play in our lives especially when facing something as daunting as a cancer diagnosis.  Bark for Life was designed to honor the unconditional love and compassion that our dogs offer us while raising money for an important cause.  All in all, it was a really fun event as you can see from all of my pictures below.  Shenanigans and I are already looking forward to doing it again next year!

The first thing that we did upon arriving at Piedmont Park was to register for the event.  Registration was only $10 per dog, although additional donations are certainly welcome.  Each dog that took part in the walk was given a special welcome packet consisting mostly of fresh dog treats and flyers from the event sponsors.  In the grand tradition of charity events everywhere, the dogs were also given something special to wear for the event:  Bark for Life bandanas!

A cute little poodle modeling the Bark for Life bandana

 The bandanas fit a little better on these bigger guys!

Following registration, we had some time to explore the vendor area.  There were tables set up selling all kinds of things to benefit the American Cancer Society, including home made treats for both people and pups, official Bark for Life t-shirts and other assorted things.  I even spotted some Bark for Life leashes and collars for sale.  If you're interested, you can purchase some Bark for Life items in the American Cancer Society store at this link.

Bark for Life t-shirts (L) and leashes (R) in the vendor area (L)

Support Bark For Life!

As with all Relay for Life events, the Bark for Life walk started with Opening Ceremonies.  Opening Ceremonies featured a number of speakers who focused primarily on the role of dogs in lives of all of us, but of cancer patients and survivors especially.  The speeches were very moving although the dogs (including Shenanigans) were getting pretty restless at that point.  Motivational speeches don't mean much to dogs, unfortunately.

Opening Ceremonies speakers

With the conclusion of Opening Ceremonies, it was time for the walk to officially begin.  Unlike the Relay for Life, which usually lasts for 12 or even 24 hours, the Bark for Life was only a one mile walk.  Our walk took place around the Active Oval at Piedmont Park, which is usually off limits to dogs, something the Bark for Life organizers failed to plan for.  In the future, I think a lap around Lake Clara Meer might work better.  Regardless, we all trooped up the steps and headed out onto the jogging path for a short lap. 

A team of Bark for Life walkers and their dogs (L) and the walkers passing in front of the Midtown Atlanta skyline (R) 
Click to enlarge all photos.

 Even the little guys got to take part!

Much like with the Relay for Life, the route for the walk was marked with hydration stations and signage from the American Cancer Society.
Hydration station (L) and Signage on the route (R)

All in all, Bark for Life was a really fun and unique event incorporating two of my passions: walking with my dog Shenanigans and raising money for cancer research.  We got to support a great organization while knocking off a couple miles of 3 Day training.  A great way to spend a Saturday morning!  I can't wait for next year!

Mike and Shenanigans with the Relay for Life sign (L) and Shenanigans and I before the walk (R)

To see all of my photos from the Bark for Life, please visit this album on my Picasa photo page.

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