RIO GRANDE — Gallia County Relay For Life is a sojourn held in Gallia County each June at the Gallipolis City Park, but the work of the dozens of Relay For Life teams all over the county truly begins after their annual celebration each summer, and the work of one such team was on display this past Saturday during an event that incorporated the unique relationship humans share with their dogs.
Community Christian Fellowship’s team “Life Light of Hope” organized the first ever Relay For Life “Bark For Life” event held on September 29 at the Bob Evans Farm Canoe Livery to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
The day featured contests, vendors and canine demonstrations, including a demonstration by local canine units with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and Rio Grande Police Department.
Team Leader Julie Penick organized the event in the hope of sparking a renewed interest in Relay For Life events, and, as an animal lover herself, the event seemed like a good fit.
“I thought it was just a good way to raise money because I know people do like to spoil their animals, and I thought it would bring a different crowd together than some of the Relay For Life events that have been going on for years around here,” she said.
The “Life Light of Hope” team was organized this June, according to Penick, after she was approached by a member of her church who had a relative with cancer — a conversation that lead to consideration of the prevalence of cancer in her own family.
“I hadn’t really thought about it before, but after this woman approached me and I thought about it, it really is something that is going on in our family a lot. So, raising money for research could help my family, too,” Penick said.
Penick explained that the money raised by all the Relay events in the county go directly toward cancer research on a national level, and that funding is trickled down regionally and, then, locally, with some of the funding going toward programs that assist cancer patients at the Holzer Center for Cancer Care.
“In Gallia County, because we have that cancer center, we do get some of the money in this area for the programs that are organized there,” she said.
Penick also hoped that her event, although modest in its first year, will continue to grow and will serve as a reminder that Relay For Life does not begin and end during the relay in June, but teams need support throughout the year while raising funds via bake sales, yard sales and a myriad of other events.
“I have found that there are people who don’t know exactly what Relay For Life is. They know about the one event in June and they think that’s all Relay For Life is is that one event where people walk,” she said. “The Relay For Life teams actually raise money the entire year leading up to that event and that’s the event that celebrates all that we raise and celebrates our cancer survivors.”
A Second Annual “Bark For Life” event will be held in September 2013.
For more information about the “Life Light of Hope” Relay For Life Team or to aid in next year’s “Bark For Life” event, contact Julie Penick via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, visit www.relayforlife.org.