Have a Heart Humane Society hit another home run by moving its biggest annual fundraiser to Meadowbrook Park this year.
The Gone to the Dogs 5K Fun Run/Walk and Pet Festival nets the nonprofit rescue organization typically $12,000 to $15,000 a year, according to Gina Christopher, Have a Heart chief financial officer/treasurer. A portion of the event's proceeds will go to help fund the organization's spay and neuter clinics, which are held all year.
"We are really excited to be at Meadowbrook Park this year and hope that the Pet Festival will be a huge success and make lots of money," Christopher said.
The event kicked off early Saturday morning with the 5K run, followed by a day filled with games, raffles, demonstrations, vendors, petting zoo and live entertainment.
According to its CEO, Gone to the Dogs volunteers spend about three months planning the event and gathering sponsors, such as this year's main sponsor, Zack Scrivner.
"This year, we got a beautiful donation of kitty litter," Christopher said of the $10,000 in litter product Have a Heart received from Nestle Purina. "I said, oh my God, that is better than a diamond ring!"
Proceeds to the event will also help Have a Heart provide its sponsors and fosters with everything they will need to care for the rescue animals — from vaccinations to piddle pads.
Said Christopher, "We are hoping to give everything we have away and adopt every pet we have today and go home empty-handed."
Many of the 5K participants said they look forward to the event as a way to support Have a Heart.
"We like to do it every year because this is my running buddy," Kristi Coghlan said of her 7-year-old Golden Retriever mix, Dixie. "This is the one, actual dog race that she can do, and we love supporting Have a Heart for many years."
Have a Heart President Carol Larimore said the best part about working with the nonprofit organization is the people.
"It's an extremely friendly group, everyone gets along, and everyone works just as hard as everyone else," said Larimore. "We have a love for the animals we take in, and that's what draws the people in."
Have a Heart is still in need of volunteers to help run its gift shop as well as foster homes for its rescued animals.
"Whether you want to foster or not, it doesn't matter," Christopher said. "We can always use your help."
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