By TESA GLASS
---- — MT. VERNON — Area residents and their pets can be a part of the Relay for Life of Jefferson County through the Bark for Life event on May 18 at Veterans Park.
"This event will allow dogs to help their owners raise money and celebrate cancer survivors, cancer research and celebrate life," said organizer Cheryl Wilkerson. "During the Relay for Life, dogs aren't allowed to come, there are liability issues. But this way, people can come, bring their pets, walk around celebrate life and have a lot of fun."Wilkerson, who is a cancer survivor, said she heard of other Bark for Life events throughout the nation and decided to try to do it in Mt. Vernon."My dog is the best company, while I have gone through my treatment," Wilkerson said. "If you have a dog and you have been through cancer with a dog, you get it. You get the love, the companionship and the support from your dog. They are part of the family."Bark for Life will held 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 18, at Veterans Park. Those who wish to participate are asked to gather in the North Shelter area. Registration is at 8 a.m., opening ceremony at 9 a.m. and contests start at 9:30 a.m."Anybody can come, it's a dog and family friendly event," Wilkerson said. "If you don't have a dog, it's okay. Bring a stuffed puppy with you. It's a celebration of survivors and life." And, Wilkerson said for children who want to "Adopt" a dog, it will be available."For a donation, the children who don't have their own dog to bring to the event can adopt a stuffed dog with its own Bark for Life bandana," Wilkerson said. "They can take that dog around the track with them."There are at least 15 contests and events planned, including contest for the best dressed, best trick and owner/canine look-alike, the longest ears, loudest bark, longest tail, most excited, oldest and youngest dogs."I am most excited about the owner look-alike contest," Wilkerson admitted. "I think that's hysterical. I hope lots of people come out for that."There will be food, music, a vendor fair with pet and human products and gear, demonstrations and more. Pre-registration is $15 per dog with a limit of two dogs per person and $20 per dog on the day of the event. The entry fee includes a Bark for Life bandana, with proceeds going to Relay for Life.Anyone who raises a minimum of $50 in donations for the event will also receive a commemorative Bark for Life T-shirt.Pre-registration is available through event sponsor Tyler's by visiting the business at 300 S. 45th St., or calling Angela Hammer at 242-0334.Additional information is available by contacting Cheryl Wilkerson at 244-6664 or Tavia Vasicek at 998-9898, opt. 3.