WILKES-BARRE — Dogs of all shapes and sizes and over 70 of their handlers enjoyed the weather with a 5K walk and race to support the Luzerne County SPCA on Saturday. Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre, a program for teenagers to learn leadership and community skills, organized the event to help get dog beds for the kennels at the shelter.
“The kids working on the Bark in the Park put the whole thing together for the SPCA,” said Jessica Cronauer, leader of Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre. “This is a community impact project on behalf of the Junior Leadership Wilkes-Barre experience, so they’re charged with defining a need within the community and coming up with a project that fills that need.”
The students contacted the city to rent the pavilion in Kirby Park and set up the race.
“It’s been a learning experience for sure. We got to learn a lot of leadership experience and make a lot of connections in our community. Even more so today with all the people that showed up, I mean 70 people, that’s insane,” said program participant Billy Perles.
They also had to plan to have lots of water and snacks for runners with two and four legs.
The SPCA was a cause junior leaders like Olivia Pizzella were passionate about.
“We always feel bad about the dogs that don’t have a home, and sometimes the conditions they’re living in aren’t the best,” said Pizzella. “We always want to give back and I feel like the SPCA doesn’t have that money or support sometimes. So we might as well raise them money, get them dog beds, maybe even some food, toys, things to give the dogs some hope.”
After more weeks of winter than perhaps most would have enjoyed, Saturday’s weather was tailor-made for a run.
“We couldn’t have picked a better day,” Perles noted.
Two of the runners, Haylie Phillips and Mitchell Zelasko, agreed the conditions were perfect.
“It was actually kind of a last minute thing to run it. I saw that it was going to be really nice this weekend and I was looking for things to do and I saw this on Facebook. We saw it was for the SPCA and thought it was a good cause,” said Phillips.
“It was something to do for the local dogs and be part of the community. We’re on the hunt for a new dog, too,” Zelasko added.