LATHROP – Rhonda Rallios loves her dog.
She knows how much simple canine companionship can mean to somebody that is suffering.
And although she didn’t share the love of her dog at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at Valverde Park last weekend – some people undergoing treatment can’t be around animals – she’ll get the chance next weekend when the first annual Lathrop Bark for Life fundraiser kicks off at the community dog park.
Because dogs play an integral part in the lives of those affected by cancer – whether it’s a guide dog, service dog or therapy dog – and their contribution to the general well-being of those that they spend time with can’t be denied.
And dogs get cancer as well.
“I think it’s a great way to introduce a different group of people to what services the American Cancer Society offers,” Rallios said. “I know my children are very attached to their animals and become even more attached to the welfare of those animals when they get cancer. It hurts because our dogs are members of our family.
“They do so much to benefit the lives of the people they touch, so it only seemed fitting that they be featured in an event that raises money for cancer awareness and research.
“The comfort that these animals provide to people that are going through treatment is very touching, and that’s one of the things that we’re planning on celebrating.”
The event will take place on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Mossdale Landing Community Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration will be $10, and multi-dog discounts will be available. Those that participate will also be asked to get pledges to help support the ongoing activities of the American Cancer Society.
Rallios said that the idea behind the event was born out of a simple discussion amongst her fellow Lathrop Sunrise Rotarians on how to benefit Lathrop’s larger ACS fundraiser, the Relay for Life.
They started a committee to look into it, and it didn’t take long before Bark for Life – an already established ACS event, was the direction they wanted to go.
By doing something that’s relatively new, Rallios – the chairperson for the event – felt that it would be fresh enough to draw people who hadn’t ever participated in a relay-type event while at the same time capturing that Lathrop Relay crowd that supports the organization wholeheartedly.
Dogs, however, can’t walk for 24 hours straight. So a trimmed-down three-hour event that incorporated some of the highlights of the larger undertaking – including the emotional Luminaria ceremony – was the way that the committee decided to go.
“When we’re talking about dogs and what it is that they do for people with cancer, it brings a smile to my face – I’m smiling right now as I’m talking about it,” she said. “It just provides a very warm feeling, and that’s what I’m hoping to capture.”
Those who want more information about the event can search for “Lathrop Bark for Life” on Google to find the webpage or can call Rallios at (209) 495-0299.
To contact Jason Campbell, email email@example.com or call (209) 249-3544.