By Jessica Jones
This year, owners didn’t tell their dogs to “sit,” they told them to “stand,” or in this case, take a stand against cancer.
On Saturday, May 6, the annual Bark for Life event successfully raised money for the American Cancer Society, a voluntary health organization dedicated to the fight against cancer. Bark for Life is a non-competitive walk for both owners and their dogs to help raise awareness.
The event was organized by co-founders and high school seniors Derek Saul, Jason Sardo and Brendan Sardo. Huge supporters of the American Cancer Society’s mission, Saul knew right away that he wanted Bark for Life to benefit it, saying that, “The American Cancer Society is a fantastic organization,” and that, “All fundraising goes to a good cause!”
The fundraiser also began as a tribute to high school math teacher and baseball coach, Dave Minsavage, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2015. The event has continued to run for four consecutive years since, bringing in a variety of different people and their beloved pets to support his memory.
The event was more than just a walk. It was a fun-filled day with music, food, contests and games, hosted by 105.5 WDHA radio personality and animal lover, Terri Carr who has attended and supported the event every year. She also helped in judging the contests which consisted of titles such as Longest Sit, Best Bark and Best Dog Trick. These types of immersive activities supplied a sense of togetherness for a community whose main goal is to support those with cancer and those fighting against it.
In 2016, Florham Park’s Bark for Life was regarded as the largest Bark for Life in New Jersey, with more than 60 dogs attending. This year, they were able to beat that with an impressive 75 dogs and their 200 owners taking part in the event. No dog? Don’t worry about it! Balloon dogs were given to children, providing them a fun experience that allowed them to really feel like they were a part of the event.
There were six registered teams at the event. The team that raised the most was Linda Sardo’s with a whopping total of $3,350. Saul said that they raised nearly $10,000 altogether, which is slightly more than last year. This adds to their incredible $36,000 total for all four years.
While the event is a fun, enjoyable time for both owners and their dogs, it is also brings forth a collective spirit in the community. “Cancer has affected our community for too long. We decided to take a stand,” said Saul.
Saul plans on helping run the event again next year, with the hope to continue bringing together a community for a great cause. He says that he participates for one primary reason: “to join the fight against cancer!”
Bark for Life was a successful start to the Relay for Life event that took place at Hanover High School on Sat., May 20.