Two weeks to go! Guardian Animal Medical Center is hosting a 5K run and 1-mile dog walk on Saturday, May 18. This will be our fourth year. We decided at our roles and goals meeting at the New Year that it would be an annual thing.

When the talk of celebrating Guardian Animal’s twenty-fifth anniversary came up, a 5K was mentioned. We wanted to do something big and a 5K is big! After a couple of weeks, it was still being bounced around and we decided to do it! A few moments later, we realized that we had never done anything like this before.

Knowing that there were other people who had, we started asking around. Our first team member was Pat at Tri-State Racer. We submitted our information, signed the contract and submitted a deposit on the $700 fee. They would do the chip timing, online registration and have a race director present. We had to select a cause, name, date, race route and decide which package we wanted.

The cause was easy. In addition to the race helping with community fitness, our 501© charitable trust fund is empty. Thirty dogs from a single home, nine more rescue dogs, several guinea pigs and all the wildlife we do took more than all our funds. We currently have a dog with a broken leg from a car accident that needs help. All proceeds will support our Guardian Angel fund for strays, rescues, wildlife and owner assistance for special cases. Last year, we prepared supplies and I traveled to vaccinate and spay dogs in Uganda.

It seems like we learn something every year. This year, the entry fee will be less than in prior years. Last year a wizened racer, told me that our fee was higher than others and that kept people out. This year the fee is less. The shirts are still way cool. (For racers/walkers and registered volunteers.)

We looked at the other races that were scheduled and are going back to our first race time. We wanted a time around our anniversary, but that could be any of four weekends. May 19th did not have other races locally, no other dog races scheduled and was the weekend before our anniversary week. It was perfect! Our race is the Guardian Angel 5K and 1-mile Paw Walk. We have changed the theme to ‘I’m a Guardian!’ to prevent any confusion with other hospital slogans.

The route was a little tougher. A flat course for the dogs was considered mandatory for pet walking. I want all the dogs to be safe, so it will be a fun walk without times. Emergency coverage for pets during the walk will be available at the neighboring animal hospitals.

We wanted to start and end at Guardian Animal for parking and set up. Several meetings with the Flatwoods police and Google maps and we had the Flatwoods portion approved. All will start at GAMC, loop around back streets to Bellefonte Road and up to the city park. Runners will run around the park and parking lot, but dogs (and owners) will only be in the parking lot. All will head back to GAMC with the 1-mile walk ending at GAMC. The 5K runners will continue down the hill, and then return up the hill to finish. The Russell portion was approved at a city council meeting already. As things are finalized, we will know how many volunteers we need. And we still have to borrow or rent cones to mark the route.

Sally has the event insurance and the awards are already here. Since we decided this is an annual event, I ordered the trophies and medals for the next couple of years. The trophies look great! First three places (male and female) in each of the other divisions will get a medal. Together, the thirty-six medals and two trophies really look sharp.

Lindsay Jo guided the T-shirt design. She took two designs out of my coloring book with GA 5K on royal blue heather shirts. They look good. Working with the designer meant that we got a better design than either of us alone would have done. TriState Racers will get the shirts. This design was slightly modified for the dog bandannas and they are on order. The registered dogs will get a race bandanna.

Sally, Erika, and Lindsay have split up the tasks of getting things done. Erika is contacting our vendors for goodie bag support and has some exciting things coming. She is even working with a volunteer on some wagon raffles for the race. The race is coming together.

Twenty-eight years ago, equipment, supplies, and walls were starting to come together as I was getting ready to open Guardian Animal Emergency Clinic. Two years later it would become Guardian Animal Hospital. 19 years after opening, we would move to Flatwoods and become Guardian Animal Medical Center. Every step of the way, we would be helped by others, learn a lot and do a better job. I love that we can do something special and something big for our anniversary and continue to give back to the community. It has come full circle as some of those initial items which were not good enough for Guardian Animal any more are now part of a veterinary clinic in Uganda. Last year our work won the World Rabies Day award for Sub Sahara Africa. I went there to help because one person dies every nine minutes from rabies in the world. This year, we look forward to the preparation of the race and the future. It is an exciting time at Guardian Animal!