Bark for Life a chance to celebrate man’s best friend

Published 5:41 pm Friday, September 22, 2017

Nothing offers the amount of comfort and support that a furry friend can.

For a second year, Bark for Life comes to Beaufort County with an event to honor canines’ support of their human cancer survivors. Bark for Life is an offshoot of the American Cancer Society’s fundraising and awareness campaign Relay for Life.

“Canine caregivers are canine companions, guide dogs, service dogs, rescue dogs, therapy dogs, police dogs, cancer survivor dogs and diagnostic dogs,” said Melissa Croom, community development manager of the southeast region of the American Cancer Society. “They participate to celebrate cancer survivorship, to honor those lost to cancer and to fundraise in support of the American Cancer Society’s mission to finish the fight against cancer.”

This year’s event is slated for Oct. 7, with registration starting at 9 a.m. at Chocowinity Recreation Complex.

Bark for Life will kick off with a survivor lap at 10 a.m., followed by games, drawings, an 11 a.m. luminary ceremony and a kissing booth, according to a press release. Vendors and teams can register to set up at the event with a $25 donation.

Registration fees are $15 for one canine, $25 for two canines or $10 for a human companion. Paws for Hope balloons are also available for purchase at $10 each to honor a loved one, human or canine.

“Bark for Life events offer survivors — and any dog lover — the opportunity to partner with their canine best friends to create new connections and share a chance to smile as they come together to fight cancer,” Croom said. “It presents an opportunity for people to be empowered through their canine companion partnerships and to contribute to cancer cures through the American Cancer Society.”

There are hundreds of canine caregivers in North Carolina, and according to information from Duke University Hospital, “pet therapy” reduces stress and depression and combats feelings of isolation in cancer patients.

“The relaxation and feelings of connection that people feel with an animal — in this case a dog — facilitate healing and rehabilitation,” a Duke Health website states.

Croom said last year’s inaugural Bark for Life event in Beaufort County was started with the help of Relay for Life volunteer and Chocowinity resident Sue Reikard, who also works at Chocowinity Pet Resort, and her daughter Christy Barndt, a Chocowinity Animal Hospital veterinarian. She said the mother-daughter duo and a slew of volunteers helped organize the event and make it a reality.

All proceeds raised at Bark for Life, Relay for Life and any other American Cancer Society fundraisers go toward providing resources for cancer patients and fund research to find a cure, according to Croom.

“Canine companions demonstrate unconditional love, joy, security and compassion to cancer survivors,” Croom said. “We have another great event planned for this year, and we are looking forward honoring our canine and human survivors and caregivers.”

To register, or for more information, visit, or call Melissa Croom at 252-695-9054.