LUMBERTON — Canines can’t cure cancer, but Catherine Gaines says they can help patients lick the disease.
“Anytime you’re going through any significant emotional change in your life, you can’t put a price on having something that provides you with unconditional love,” said Gaines, a patient navigator at Southeastern Health. “Animals fill a spiritual gap that we can’t fill for the patient. In some instances, that’s just as important as chemotherapy.”
On Saturday, Gaines will enlist dog lovers in the fight against cancer as part of the third annual Bark for Life fundraiser at Luther Britt Park. The event benefits the American Cancer Society and serves as a pet-friendly counterpart to Relay for Life.
“There are a ton of dog people in Robeson County,” she said. “A lot of folks are excited about coming out, so I’m hoping it’s going to be a big day.”
Previous installments of Bark for Life were organized almost entirely by Gaines. She received help this time around from Shelia Burke, a cancer survivor and fellow dog lover.
“She has been instrumental in upping the ante this year,” Gaines said.
People and their pets can participate in contests, walks and other activities during the event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The costume contest, a popular attraction at previous Bark for Life events, will be judged by local Girl Scouts.
The event will also feature demonstrations from obedience instructors and K-9 officers from the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office
Gaines hopes the enhancements will help Bark for Life surpass its fundraising record of $700.
“I’ll be happy If we can do more that, which I think we can,” she said.
Cancer kills about 580,000 Americans each year, making it the nation’s No. 2 killer, behind heart disease. The American Cancer Society projects that there will be 50,000 new cases of cancer in North Carolina this year, 700 of them in Robeson County, according to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics.
Admission to Bark for Life is $15 for the first dog and $10 for each additional dog. Luther Britt Park is located at 671 Branch St. in Lumberton.
For information, call 910-671-5762.
Features editor Jaymie Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5771 or by email at [email protected]