By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor
The entire community is invited to the Fourth Annual Bark for Life, a family-friendly and canine-friendly picnic fundraiser to benefit both The Humane Society of Morgan County and Relay for Life. The event will be held on Saturday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Bill Wood Park, located at 1000 Heritage Park Circle in Madison. The deadline to register for a free t-shirt is April 8. Lunch will be served for just $3, which will include chips, a drink, and choice between hotdogs, hamburgers, and pizza. Both “people ice cream” and “doggy ice cream” from Scoops in Madison will be available for a separate donation. While anyone and everyone are invited to participate in Bark for Life, organizers are especially looking to recognize and celebrate cancer survivors and their canine companions. “We want to get the entire community involved by bringing their families and their dogs to the park,” said Beth Bradley. “Of course, it is a special honor to have cancer survivors come out. We want to make this event an annual family affair.” “Its a great cause,” said Brandi Skinner, director of the Humane Society of Morgan County.
“Plus, it great family fun and being able to bring your dogs out is a huge bonus. Most importantly it makes people aware of cancer survivors and the work we do at the Humane Society, not only in this county, but in the eight surrounding counties that we rescue from.” Last year’s Bark for Life brought in $1715, with about 75 people and 25 dogs in attendance. Bradley is hoping to draw at least 50 families and their dogs this year, with a fundraising goal of $5000. All money raised with be split in half for Relay for Life, which goes toward cancer research, and The Morgan County Humane Society, our local non-profit, no-kill shelter. Bradley, organizer of the event, is passionate about this event, as she herself is a cancer survivor who was greatly encouraged during her battle with cancer through the love and companionship of her dogs.
“A dog can be a great companion and caregiver. They are always on your side giving unconditional love,” explained Bradley. “Celebrate your dog for being a great family member and support two very important local charities while having a lot of fun!” The BBQ-style fundraiser is being orchestrated by the organizers of the Morgan County Relay for Life and the Morgan County Humane Society. “I want everyone to know this is a family event allowing you to bring your dog to the park!” said Bradley. Bradley has two beagle-mix breeds, Madison and Morgan, that she adopted from the Humane Society. While Bradley rescued these stray pups, it was these dogs that were the real lifesavers for Bradley. “We now have two new special doggies, Morgan and Madison. They are growing up as loving caregivers and supporters of local charities,’ said Bradley. “I have been in remission from the last stages of Hodgkin’s Disease for over 20 years,’ shared Bradley, who appreciated the unconditional love and support only a dog can give. “They have been by my side during good times and sick times. They were there when I would come home from the checkups at the doctor office. There is nothing better than a doggy hug and kiss.” Bark for Life is just one in a series of Relay for Life leading up to the Festival for Life, a downtown carnival-style event in Town Park on Saturday, April 11.
All funds go into cancer research and community programs that assist cancer patients and survivors. Relay for Life gives funds to the Hope Lodge, which helps cancer patients who struggle to pay for their treatments and the Cancer Hotline, that connects patients and caregivers to medical professionals available to answer questions they have about cancer. The cancer help-line number is 1-800-227-2345. This year, the Morgan County Relay for Life opted to put on a town festival in addition to the traditional walking laps to raise money. “This be a very family-friendly festival with life music, food, face-painting, and games for all to enjoy,” said Bradley. “We will still walk laps and honor cancer survivors later on in the evening. We will create a space for survivors and caregivers to be recognized, they will be given food, t-shirts and goodie bags.” Bradley is hoping the entire community will rally together to raise funds for this very important cause. “Almost everyone nowadays knows someone who is affected by cancer,’ said Bradley. Bradley devotes much of her time to helping others through Relay for Life and public speaking. Bradley’s message is diligence in preventative care. “I am a walking miracle,” said Bradley. “I ignored the signs my body was giving me and I ended up being diagnosed with stage four cancer. I don’t want anybody else to ever have to go through that.” “Believe me, you don’t want to go through what I went through. Take the time to get yourself checked regularly. Make the time because you are playing with danger if you don’t,’ added Bradley. To register for the event, to order Bark for Life T-shirt or to find out how to make a donation, Beth Bradley at: (770) 377-9244 or The Humane Society of Morgan County at (706) 343-9977. You can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: https://www.facebook.com/MadisonBarkForLife.