Dogs join the cancer fight at Bark for Life
The Bark for Lifers make their way through Bates Nut Farm. Photos by Lisa Rose
September 24, 2013Blue skies and cornstalk-lined pumpkin fields created an idyllic background for Valley Center's first annual Bark for Life dog walk on Saturday at Bates Nut Farm. A sister event to the Relay for Life events benefitting the American Cancer Society, the one-mile trail walk attracted more than 100 dog owners and their pooches of all sizes, shapes and breeds. Close to $10,000 was raised for cancer research, doubling their projected goal.
Event chair, Lori Lallo, of Valley Center, said, "My dad died of leukemia back in 2005 and that started the whole Relay for Life thing for me. I began doing that event two years ago, the 24-hour walk, but you can't bring your animals. I'm a big dog lover and I foster for the Humane Society. So six months ago I decided to do this.
A dog's life.
"It's surprising how well behaved they are, having this many dogs together," she added.
Kaleena Sturman poses with Lucy.
The Bark for Life event attracted participants from all over Southern California — from dog lovers to cancer survivors, along with their family and friends. Kyle Childress, 14, of Vista, participated in the walk with his mother, Anita, in celebration of beating Hodgkin's lymphoma seven years ago.
"Kyle went in for his treatment when he was six years old. That took about a year and he's been cancer-free ever since," she said. "We did the Vista Relay for Life and I served on the committee there. Then we found out about this and thought it sounded like a fun event so we brought our dog, Polly, out for it. She's a terrier mix from the Oceanside Humane Society."
Participants raised money in teams or individually. The top three "Woof Packs" were: Paws 4 The Cause, Valley Center Firefighters and Paws & Claws Against Cancer. Top individual fundraisers were Lori Lallo, Matt Schaldach and Geri Sterling.
Kyle Childress takes a walk with Polly.
Valley Center resident, Kaleena Sturman and her dog, Lucy, wore matching purple tutus in keeping with the event's color scheme. Sturman walked the trail as a participant and also served as a volunteer.
"I've done Relay for Life for two years now," she said. "My family owns Lake Wohlford Café and I did the food for Relay for Life this past June. But any event to bring the dog out is great."
The Bark for Lifers make their way through Bates Nut Farm.
The event kicked off at 8:00 a.m. with a Zumba class to energize the crowd followed by a blessing of the animals by Lori Jacobs of Valley Center. An array of activities enhanced the experience, from dog fashion and peanut butter-licking contests to a showcase of canine talent: Frisbee-catching, sheep herding and a police K9 unit demonstration. More than 30 vendors were on-site offering local goods and services.
Lallo said she is thrilled with the turn-out for this first-year event and hopes to bring the event back to Bates Nut Farm next year.
"It's wonderful having it here," she said. "Sherry at Bates Nut Farm was nice enough to donate the venue and everything just flowed together beautifully."
Sarah Smylie-Massett and Kellsey McCaffree take a break with the puppies.
For more information on Bark for Life events, go to www.relayforlife.org.