Walk for Dog Guides surpasses fundraising goal

The Sylvan Lake Lions Club’s second year of hosting the Purina Walk for Dog Guides was a smash success on Sunday.

Walkers and their dogs leave the gate at the start of the Purina Walk for Dog Guides at the Sylvan Lake Dog Park on Sunday.

The Sylvan Lake Lions Club’s second year of hosting the Purina Walk for Dog Guides was a smash success on Sunday, with more than $5,000 being raised toward the provision of dog guides to individuals in need.

About 25 people took part in the walk, which saw participants and their dogs walk one of two circuits beginning at the Sylvan Lake Dog Park. While the final amount raised through the event hasn’t yet been calculated, organizer and Lions Club member Suzanne Leshchyshyn estimates it will end up around $5,300 — surpassing both the organizers’ $5,000 fundraising goal and the $3,600 raised through last year’s event.

“After out first year, we didn’t have any expectations — we just said, ‘let’s try this and see how it works,’” she said. “It was a great day.”

All money raised through the event will go to the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides — a program that trains dogs and places them with applicants to assist with physical and medical disabilities.

The cost of doing so can reach upwards of $25,000, though applicants aren’t required to pay any of that amount. For that reason, events such as the dog walk are particularly important to the program.

“Our goal is to make it more accessible for individuals, because it is no charge to them … and that’s what’s so great,” said Leshchyshyn. “(Money raised) all helps to get to that point where we’re able to sponsor another dog.”

Several dog guide recipients took part in Sunday’s walk — some having travelled from Red Deer and Calgary to do so. Having them there, Leshchyshyn feels, made the event a little bit more special.

“They’re very supportive of coming out and helping the community learn more about the dog guide program and what it does to change their lives to make them more independent,” she said, adding the event will return around the same time next year. “We’re looking forward to doing it again next year and hopefully being able to just help that one more person with getting a dog.”

Donations to the cause can be made online at purinawalkfordogguides.com.