Greater Bangor Bark for Life is a three hour event that brings together cancer survivors, their caregivers and loved ones (both two and four legged) while remembering and honoring those who have passed away from the disease. Those who attend mingle, visit pet themed and community vendor booths, and take in a bite to eat before walking one lap around the Hollywood Casino Racetrack with their dogs. Participants are encouraged to raise funds leading up to the event with all the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society's efforts to find a cure. Team Wolf Pack has been the top fundraising team two years in a row.
"We try and think of different things to do to fundraise year round," explained Bruns. "We did a yard sale and collected $700. We did a silent pie auction and raised $1,000. We do craft fairs, raffles, and we even made Mother's Day baskets this year and put them in our break room to sell."
Bruns is passionate about Bark for Life and works hard to raise awareness about the event because she knows firsthand what it is like to lose a loved one to the disease.
"My sister passed away five years ago from cancer. She was 42 and loved dogs," said Bruns. "I've attended Relay for Life before but 'Bark' is just so different. It is only a few hours and is so worthwhile for anyone that's involved or loves animals."
“A Waggin' Walkers” is another team participating in this year's event. Team captain Elizabeth Tilton has come up with her own unique way to raise funds for the cause.
"I will be cutting and donating at least 12 inches of my hair," said Tilton. "I recently watched a man lose his hair through treatment and I can't imagine, as a woman, the feeling of losing my hair on top of that battle. This is something I can do to ease someone else's burden."
This year's event will take place on Saturday, June 14 from 5:30 p.m to 8 p.m. at the Hollywood Casino Raceway off Main Street. Those who would like to get involved are encouraged to register online at www.relayforlife.org/barkbangor. Each registrant will receive a T-shirt for themselves and a bandana for their canine companion. Teams can consist of as few as two people or as many as 100.
"Each person has their own story about how their life has been changed by cancer. [Bark] is an event that doesn't require a huge time commitment, is fun and makes people really want to be involved," said Tilton.