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Dogs, Owners Revel In Bark For Life

Beneath the bright sun and flowering trees Saturday at Sunnybrook Ballroom in Sanatoga, dogs and their humans gathered to join Bark For Life.

Beneath the bright sun and flowering trees Saturday at Sunnybrook Ballroom in Sanatoga, dogs and their humans gathered in Bark For Life.

Lisa Moore and Lola.

Lisa Moore and Lola.

SANATOGA PA – Lisa Moore, a North Coventry PA resident who decided Saturday (April 18, 2009) was a day to wear pink, in honor of all women fighting cancer, made the same choice for her best friend, Lola. Together for a mile they walked, similarly dressed, on a course plotted around the grounds of Sunnybrook Ballroom.

They were raising money so someday, somewhere else, someone else could also decide to wear pink.

Moore and her dog were among almost 500 entries in Saturday’s third annual Bark For Life, a parade of pooches and their owners that has become a nationally renowned fund-raiser to benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS). A part of Pottstown’s Relay for Life, which this year hopes to collect $1.1 million to help battle the disease, the event attracted hundreds of people to Sunnybrook Drive to enjoy fun, food, and the warm and brightly sunny weather.

Handling two English bulldogs and a cell phone isn't impossible, but it can be a challenge.

Handling two bulldogs and a phone isn't impossible, just challenging.

For each owner and each pet, there were individual stories about why Bark For Life was important to them. Some were cancer survivors who relied on the love of their dogs to pull them through hard times. Others were relatives of cancer victims who hoped to spare future generations pain and suffering.

A few came just to get in some good exercise while helping a worthy cause.

All those motivations were noted by Reuel Johnson, national vice president for ACS’ Relay for Life activities. Johnson and members of his staff have been so impressed by Bark for Life, which originated in Pottstown during 2007 as a walk along Riverfront Park, that they trekked here just to attend the event and take notes on its operation.

After a 10 a.m. ceremonial opening and blessing of the animals, the walk got under way. All along the route there was happy laughter, light conversation, barking galore, and the oft-repeated phrase, “Watch where you step!” Guest tents and vendors’ booths filled the parking lot near the ballroom’s main entrance, where afterward people and pets alike paused for refreshments.

Water-filled dog bowls lined the path around Sunnybrook to ensure pets were well-hydrated. Pausing for a photo before the walk were father and daughter, Bill Brown of Boyertown and Michelle Skitko of Oley, and their four-legged friends.

Water-filled dog bowls lined the path around Sunnybrook to ensure pets were well-hydrated. Pausing for a photo before the walk were father and daughter, Bill Brown of Boyertown and Michelle Skitko of Oley, and their dogs, proving Bark For Life was a family affair.

Not everyone who attended Bark For Life was interested in the dogs. For one toddler, Mom's sunglasses seemed to hold more appeal.

Not everyone who attended Bark For Life was interested in the dogs. For one toddler, Mom's sunglasses seemed to hold more appeal.

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