Marysville's ‘Bark for Life’ raises more than $9,000

MARYSVILLE — Lily Rotunno is no stranger to cancer.

Her father had prostate cancer, her mother had breast cancer and her sister was diagnosed with skin cancer.

“We’re hoping she caught it in time,” Rotunno said. “That’s why you should check for any unusual moles.”

On May 21, she was joined on the Asbery Field track by another cancer survivor who’s close to her heart.

“Last year, they removed a mast cell tumor from Emerald,” said Rotunno, referring to a relatively common form of skin cancer for dogs. “Fortunately, it was all encapsulated, so they were able to cut right around it. We’re just watching for any further problems.”

Emerald was one of more than 70 dogs whose owners brought them out to the Asbery Field track on May 21, for the first in what event chair Chris Ingram hopes will become an annual series of “Bark For Life” fundraisers for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. Ingram coordinated the Bark For Life with Scrub-a-Mutt fundraiser co-founders Jennifer Ward and Elizabeth Woche, and credited them with helping her set her sights high for her own fundraising event.

“My original goal was to raise $3,000, but Jennifer and Elizabeth told me that was way too low,” Ingram said. “With as much of a dog-lovers’ community as Marysville is, they said I should shoot for $10,000. I just wanted to beat the $1,200 that Monroe raised last year,” she laughed.

Ingram’s latest estimate placed the Marysville Bark For Life’s fundraising total at more than $9,000, quite a bit more than either her original goal or the Monroe total she cited. As both a dog owner and as someone whose family has been affected by cancer, she felt touched by the community’s generosity.

“When my mom was dying of cancer, her dog was right by her side,” Ingram said. “The comfort that dogs can give people is priceless.”

Dr. Karen Weeks, of the Frontier Village Vet Clinic in Marysville, concurred with this assessment. Although her own family has been relatively cancer-free, aside from her grandmother recovering from cancer when Weeks was a small child, Weeks supported the Bark For Life because she also sees health benefits in the bond between people and their pets.

“Pets give us unconditional love,” Weeks said. “To someone who’s fighting cancer, that can mean so much.”

Woche lost her mother to cancer 16 years ago, and as she and her daughter Noelle helped walk various dogs around the track throughout the day, she encouraged the community to contribute to the fight against cancer in any way that they can.

“Most people’s lives have been touched by cancer,” Elizabeth Woche said. “Whether it’s by donating, or volunteering, or spreading the word, or starting events like this, everyone should get involved. If everyone did something, we would be that much closer to a cure.”


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