Dog Day 5K is all about the animals
On a rainy morning in late August, with the chill of fall in the air, Keira Clark watched as 55 runners and walkers departed Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs.
Many of the participants had their four-legged best friends in tow as they traversed the out-and-back course on the Rio Grande Trail in the second-annual Dog Day 5K, which is a benefit for the Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE).
Clark has been the special events and volunteer coordinator at CARE for the past five years. As she scurried around between the volunteer tent and the starting area making sure all volunteers were ready and well-equipped to perform their duties, it became apparent that helping animals of all shapes and sizes is more a labor of love than a job to Clark.
“I got the idea for putting on this race when I went to the Sequoia Glen 5K a couple of years ago,” said Clark, speaking of another valley race which benefits local animal shelters. “I went back to the shelter and told everyone I thought it would be a good idea for us to do one. The proceeds from this race go to our general fund which helps pay for housing, food, supplies and vaccines. The money also helps our Dove Fund, which provides spay and neuter assistance.”
The Dog Day 5K was well-stocked with volunteers from CARE. Judy Thompson, a retired nurse who has volunteered at the Spring Valley shelter for the past 13 years, is the leader of the helpers in longevity, but is quick to point out that everyone present is her equal in wanting to help animals in need.
“I enjoy being with the animals, and I enjoy the people of this valley. Working at CARE has helped me meet many wonderful people,” Thompson said. “They won’t let me foster kittens anymore because I always want to keep all of them.”
As rain-soaked runners started to trickle across the finish line, hair and fur matted to their bodies, race course volunteer Jim Conway greeted them all with enthusiasm and a big smile. Conway is a proud owner of two cats, so he is always more than happy to help the folks at CARE.
“The people at CARE do such a great job. I think they are the best nonprofit in the valley,” said Conway, who is a regular at many local running events as a runner as well as helper.
Everyone who showed up at Two Rivers Park to run and help out would have to be considered a winner, but the first two people who crossed the finish line were ladies who left everyone far back on the trail.
Amy (Lund) Collins of Basalt, and Glenwood Springs High cross country freshman Claudia Hirons, took the top two spots, and prizes, on the female podium. Both ladies came to the race to get in a good workout, but also to support a cause they are fond of.
“The people at CARE work so hard, I enjoy supporting them. I needed to get in a good run this morning and this was obviously the best place to do it,” Collins said.
CARE raised almost a thousand dollars in proceeds from the race. The valuable gifts of time as well as money from donors are what keep many animals safe, healthy, and with the prospects of finding a new home.
Whether it’s CARE, the Rifle Animal Shelter, the Lucky Day Animal Rescue in Aspen, or any local group which helps animals, you can’t go wrong in giving something of yourself to lend a hand.
Mike Vidakovich is a freelance writer from Glenwood Springs. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.
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