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Harrison Township

April 11, 2013

Bark for Life returns to Metropark

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Bark for Life returns to Metropark
Harrison Township resident Brianna Kennedy participated in Bark for Life with her Pomeranian, Hershey, last year at Lake St. Clair Metropark, joining dogs and their owners in raising funds for the American Cancer Society. This year’s event will take place at 3 p.m. April 21.

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — There were so many dogs and so many of their people walking the trail at lake St. Clair Metropark last year that the organizers of the now annual Bark for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society are bringing it back to Harrison Township for 2013.

Bark for Life’s “Strut Your Mutt” walk will be held from noon to 3 p.m. April 21 at Lake St. Clair Metropark. It is being sponsored by L’Anse Creuse Middle School — Central.

Middle school employee Judy Merrifield, one of the coordinators, said the unprecedented success of the 2012 event was noted by officials with the national Bark for Life chapter in Pennsylvania.

“They said it’s not common that a first-ever event could be such a big success,” Merrifield said. “We hope it’s even more successful this year.”

The first event attracted 63 dogs to the lakefront park and raised more than $2,000.

Funds raised through Bark for Life walks like the one in Harrison Township will help reinforce the efforts of Relay for Life, the popular 24-hour walk and fundraiser benefitting the American Cancer Society. The event will also bring more attention to the local May 4 Relay, and it’s an opportunity for cancer survivors to thank their canine companions and caregivers for the roles they have played or are playing in their recovery.

Bark for Life started in Pottstown, Pa., nine years ago, following an outcry by Relay for Life participants, specifically those battling cancer and cancer survivors, who wanted their canine pals to be involved, as well. As a general rule, dogs and other pets are not able to walk in Relay for Life.

“We’re hoping it will be a little warmer this year, which will definitely help with the turnout and with how much money we can raise,” said Merrifield. This year’s Bark goal is $3,000.

The money is raised through the entry fees, and through individuals fundraisers held before and during the event, such as grooming services by local dog groomers. Other fundraising efforts included “Paw” sales and restaurant partnerships led by TCF Bank in Chesterfield Township and a cutest dog photo contest at the middle school, in which students paid a $1 entry fee.

During Bark for Life, there will be a cutest dog contest, and an award will be given to the dog with the best trick. Other events are also planned throughout the morning, and there will be a number of vendors on hand.

“The Macomb County Sheriff’s K-9 (unit) will be there, as well, giving demonstrations,” Merrifield said. “It’s really a great day. A fun day for the people and their dogs, and it’s for a great cause.”

The cost is $15 per pre-registered dog and $20 the day of the event. There is a $5 charge for each additional dog. People get in for free. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society and contribute to Relay for Life in Harrison Township, which will be held on May 4.

For more information or to register, go to http://www.relayforlife.org/barkharrisontownshipmi or email barkwithmerriju@comcast.net.