Hope Warriors Hold First Annual "Paws for a Cure" Relay for Life Fundraiser

Particpants of all breeds enjoy walking in the "Paws for a Cure" event held Saturday, May 12, at Proctor Park, California, by the Hope Warriors Relay for Life team.

Particpants of all breeds enjoy walking in the "Paws for a Cure" event held Saturday, May 12, at Proctor Park, California, by the Hope Warriors Relay for Life team. Photo by John Inman.

The Hope Warriors Relay for Life team held their First Annual "Paws for a Cure" fundraiser at Proctor Park, California, Saturday, May 12. The 1.5 mile walk for people and their pets was held to raise money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Aside from the walk itself there was SnapIt Portrait Studio, Jefferson City, taking pictures, Teresa Porter who had the latest in canine fashion and collar slides, team members Melissa Wolford and Vanna Stuart offering nail painting and temporary tattoos, a silent auction for three dog houses built by John Smulders from material donated by California Construction and a drawing. Potted flowers for Mother's Day and tomato plants were available. Several door prizes were donated by sponsors including the California Vet Clinic, Pamida, Orscheln Farm and Home, Burgher Haus, PetSmart, Casey's Pizza, Coats & Tails and Teresa Porter. The team also offered a concession stand with hot dogs, chips, candy bars and drinks.

Wolford said the idea to have "Paws for a Cure" came up during a meeting for ideas of fundraisers which were different from the other events. One of the ideas brought up was having a walk involving pets.

"We are all dog-lovers so that idea developed into our main Relay fundraiser project," Wolford said. "Pets play important roles in the lives of those who have or have had cancer. It is medically recognized that pets help boost a person's sense of emotional and physical well-being. People who have cancer often experience a lot of stress and even depression. Our dogs love us unconditionally and help reduce anxiety and fear. While having radiation, Debra Smulders (team survivor) said a cancer service dog visited once a week to patients waiting for treatment. Hope Warriors decided to incorporate a healthy event (the walk) with the love we share for our furry-friends who provide us with comfort whether you have an illness or not. Thus, PAWS for a Cure to benefit Relay for Life was born."

Wolford said this was their go round for this event and with it being their biggest event, they wanted to make sure they had something for everyone. She added they are a small team but worked hard on this project. They were not knowing what to expect but Wolford added they were really overwhelmed by the support they received.

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Participants in the "Paws for a Cure" event register.

"We are so proud to live in a community including the surrounding areas that is so supportive," Wolford said. "We also had people from Columbia and Jefferson City attend. It was awesome to see so many come out for such a great cause. Several of the people were cancer survivors as well. Some had their pets dressed up and others had bandanas supporting Relay. Many of the people wore supportive cancer t-shirts."

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Savannah Walton, 9, youngest junior member of the Hope Warriors.

Wolford said Hope Warriors Relay for Life team is a new team in Moniteau County. They have two survivors on the team, Leona Kemp who is actually a two-time cancer survivor, and Smulders, who was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma last year. Their team consists of family and friends who are participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life because as Wolford said, "we want to make a meaningful difference in the fight against cancer. We want to see a cure for cancer in our lifetime. Every one of us has been touched by cancer, either through their own personal battle or through someone they love."

Wolford said she joined Hope Warriors because of her mother, Smulders.

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Preston McMillian enjoys chips during the "Paws for a Cure" event held by the Hope Warriors Relay for Life Event held Saturday, May 12, at Proctor Park, California.

"For me," Wolford said, "being on the team is important because I hope our efforts will some day bring about a cure. We've had some hiccups and hang-ups along the way with our team, but we have an excellent group of people now who make up Hope Warriors. We are very blessed to have the hard working and dedicated team members that we have."

Wolford said they are still selling chances to a drawing of a beautiful queen sized quilt donated by Ruth Rohrbach along with chances at two crib quilts Rohrbach also quilted. Hope Warriors will give those along with several gift baskets away the night of the Moniteau County Relay for Life June 15-16, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., at the Moniteau County Fairgrounds, California. Future plans may include an event in the future during October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"Paws for a Cure" is an event they plan on continuing every year going forward. Wolford said right now through they are looking forward to being a part of the Moniteau County Relay for Life for their first year as a team.

"Our two survivors will be on the track for the survivor lap for the first time in Moniteau County," Wolford said. "We are so proud to be a part of Relay and share a night of fun and fellowship with fellow relay teams from Moniteau County. We would like to encourage everyone to come to the Relay for Life main event at the Moniteau County Fairgrounds."

Wolford said they appreciate everyone who helped them put on "Paws for a Cure" whether it was sponsoring, donating time or walking and patronizing their vendors. They are looking forward to seeing everyone next year at Proctor Park.

"Without all of you," Wolford said, "the event would not have been such a huge success!"

To find out more information about Hope Warriors, call Smulders at 573-796-2198 or email hope_warriors@yahoo.com. Hope Warriors are also available to be "liked" on Facebook.

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