By J. L. Shively
The sun was shining and tails were wagging at the Bark for Life Relay held at the Florham Park Gazebo on May 21.
This was the third annual Bark for Life campaign held in Florham Park since it was started by Stacy Saul and Linda Sardo.
Much like a Relay for Life event, Bark for Life is a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society with the most notable difference being that many of the relay team members are four-footed and furry.
The Bark for Life event is a different kind of fundraiser and special in its own right. This event is really “more of a festival than a walk,” says Sarah Greulich, a Community manager with the American Cancer Society.
“This is my favorite event and I look forward to it all year,” says Greulich noting the excitement and activity that takes place at a Bark for Life event.
Just as the Relay for Life honors those who have or are currently battling cancer, Bark for Life honors “the life-long contributions of our canine caregivers,” says Greulich.
Canine caregivers, Greulich explains, can be dogs who have worked as therapy dogs, police dogs and guide dogs or even just dogs who are cancer survivors themselves. These dogs team up with their owners to form relay teams for this special event held just once a year in Florham Park.
This event, Greulich says, “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.”
While still a touching celebration this relay is also a lot of fun for both the dogs and their owners.
“We do an honorary walk to start the event,” Greulich says but most of the event is a chance for dogs and their owners to unite in the battle against cancer and make some new friends.
This year’s event had around 200 human attendees and 80 dogs of all different sizes and backgrounds. The people who participate come to “celebrate cancer survivorship, to honor people lost to cancer and to fundraise” for a great cause, explains Greulich.
The American Cancer Society’s mission is to eliminate cancer by funding research and spreading education about cancer as well as advocating those in need.
The Bark for Life event is brought to life by many sponsors including Total Health Physical Medicine and Rehab Center, K9 Resorts of Madison, Royal Canine Dog Training LLC and many more.
This year’s event raised around $11,000 which will be donated directed to the American Cancer Society and its efforts to help survivors, caregivers and continue to pioneer cancer research.
“Service canine companions demonstrate unconditional love, joy, security, compassion and no judgments of cancer survivor’s abilities and appearances,” says Greulich, explaining how important a four-legged friend can be during such a difficult time in a person’s life.
“The American Cancer Society’s Bark for Life is an irresistible way to partner with your canine best friend, smile and make new friends, canine and human,” concludes Greulich.