Cancer walk honors canine companions

A spattering of walkers with their four legged furry friends came out to the Ronald Reagan Sports Park in Temecula Sunday morning to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

Temecula’s first Bark for Life honored the caregiving qualities of canine companions, the cancer survivors, and promoted information on how individuals can reduce their cancer risk.

The morning non-competitive walk was under a blanket of stormy clouds and warm breezes, making the morning comfortable and fun for all participants.

Kristine Crothers, a cancer survivor from Murrieta, brought her English bulldog, Fergie and Chihuahua, Roxie to the walk. Crothers, 35, has been cancer free for ten years but remembers how her childhood dog, Darwin, an Australian Shepherd kept her company.

“I remember he would just lay with me,” said Crothers. “When you going through cancer treatment and are weak, it just makes you feel better to have your dog lay with you.”

Crothers now volunteers for the Murrieta Relay for Life with the American Cancer Society and plans to hold a Bark for Life walk in Murrieta on November 22.

Sunday’s walk meandered through the park’s paved pathways, allowing people to walk and talk about their inspirational cancer stories.

Fifty-year-old Yvonne Raymond drove from Carlsbad in an effort to support her mother who is fighting lung cancer.

“I had uterine cancer a few years ago and had a hysterectomy to get rid of the cancer. Now the roles have switched and I am the caregiver for my mother,” said Raymond. “It is so important to raise money for cancer research so we can find a cure.”

Local businesses like Unleased and Dogtoppia also came out in support of Sunday’s event, offering treats and donations.

“Cancer runs in my family. My dad and my dog have died of cancer and my sister is battling with cervical cancer,” said Corina Kennedy, who works for Unleashed, a national team partner with American Cancer Society.

Kennedy is also the event chair for the annual Relay for Life in Murrieta that drew close to 2,000 walkers this past May.

Brooklyn Jorgenson, 16, from Temecula came by herself in support of her mother who fought cervical cancer.

“This is my third walk for cancer research,” said Jorgenson. “I am here for my mother.”

The atmosphere was upbeat and lively with music playing and different activities for children and adults. Participants were able to decorate dog bowls, get their faces painted and munch on donuts.

The Temecula Police Department brought also held a demonstration show with their K-9 unit. Corporal Chad Staat and his four-legged partner Astin showed off their skills in conducting article searches for the crowd.

Sarah Mason, the Relay for Life Specialist in Temecula said anyone who wants to participate in future the Bark for Life events could go to the website: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?fr_id=62802&pg=entry. Vendors and volunteers are also needed for November’s Bark for Life event.

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