Walking for pets

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kelly Rush is addicted to helping animals, which is why she organizes the Mower County Humane Society’s annual Friends in Need Walk for Animals.

Rush and her fellow chairpersons have put together a few new attractions and some exciting prizes for this year’s walk-A-thon, which takes place Sept. 12 at the Mill Pond area on North Main Street.

The walk-a-thon, where owners and their pets walk around Mill Pond, starts at 2 p.m. with registration taking place at 1 p.m.

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“It’s just a big mass of animals and humanity” said Jay Lutz, current president of MCHS. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Participating in the walk-a-thon is simple, according to Rush, who’s helped put together the past four events. All one needs to do is fill out a pledge sheet and start collecting money. Those who want to win prizes for the top earners will have to work quickly, as generally pledge sheets are available to the public for about five weeks prior to the walk-a-thon each year.

“Some of these kids go out and collect money all summer,” Rush said. “They just collect thousands.”

In fact, someone once collected more than $5,000 for the walk, according to Lutz. That’s one of the reasons why the it’s the biggest fundraiser for MCHS. Lutz said last year’s event raised about $20,000.

Prizes for the top pledge earners this year include an overnight stay for four at the Depot Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, which includes free passes to the waterpark there, along with a $100 gift certificate to Oak Park Mall and a chicken dinner package for 10 from the Apollo Superette. The top-earning child participant will earn a party package for themselves and nine other kids, including pizza for 10 from Steve’s Pizza, 10 bowling passes to Echo Lanes Bowling Alley and 10 passes to the Cinemagic 7 theater. The top earners will be able to pick their own prizes, with the highest pledging fundraiser picking first.

There will be pledge awards for everyone who collects more than $50, more than $150 and more than $200 as well. People who collect more than $200 will receive all three prizes available which includes a pet bowl, a beach blanket and a pullover. A raffle for smaller prizes will be held for participants as well.

Other attractions at this year’s walk-a-thon include a new pet contest, where pets have the chance to win in categories like “smallest dog,” as well as a pencil-drawn portrait of participating pets by local artist Nini Johnson, who will receive donations for her work which goes towards the Friends In Need shelter in Austin.

Hot dogs, cookies and refreshments will be provided to all participants. All proceeds from the event will go towards the shelter, which is run by MCHS volunteers.

Pledge forms are available at the Mower County Humane Society, Austin Public Library, Double K Specialty, Austin Vet Clinic and Blooming Prairie Vet Clinic.