This Saturday is the 13th annual Chase Away 5K, a fun run I organize to raise money for Chase Away K9 Cancer.
Some of you know the story. In 2006, Cera Reusser learned the devastating news that her dock diving champion, a black lab named Chase, had cancer. Chase had been the picture of health…and then suddenly was gone merely days later — before Cera even had a chance to try and treat it. Not knowing what else to do with her profound grief, she started a nonprofit to raise money for canine cancer research and awareness.
Some of you know the story behind my event. In 2006, Ellie Greyhound (our second retired racer) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. We were lucky. Amputation, chemotherapy, and natural medicine beat her cancer into remission and we got an addition 4 years with her. She died of old age, crushing the median survival rate a little less than 1 year.
Cera and I met virtually (she’s in Washington State and I’m here in Vermont), and I decided to help her with her mission.
In 2011, I organized the first Chase Away 5K in memory of Ellie who had died a year earlier. But then... In 2012, Dingo (our third retired racer) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma — it’s the number 1 cause of death for retired racers, so while devastating, it’s not a surprise — and died 2 days before our event. Thanks to our volunteers and tremendous community support, I was able to power through. It was hard. Really hard. But I did it.
Each year, it should get easier. We’ve been doing this for a while now, and there are a lot pieces that automatically just fall into place. The location. The marketing/ promotion plan. The registration website. But it doesn’t.
In 2019, some of you may recall seeing Dylan — our 4th greyhound and 3rd diagnosed with osteosarcoma — as our Donation Dog. Like Ellie, he beat the odds…but didn’t quite make it to 2 years.
In 2021, we lost Heidi to hemangiosarcoma (which caught us COMPLETELY by surprise, as she, like Chase, was the picture of health…until she was gone) and Dylan almost exactly 6 months later.
And then there are your stories. Each year I hear more of them, and each year they shatter my heart a little bit more.
So why do I keep doing this to myself?
- To honor the memory of Chase and Ellie and Dingo and Dylan and Heidi and Fee and Auggie and Sugar and Buster and Zoe and Tess and Rebel and Moxie and Ziggy and all the other dogs I have known and loved (or will know and love!)
- To stop this from happening. A pipe dream, I know, but that day is coming. It’s got to.
- To help you. For so many of you, this event is beautiful and healing and cathartic and everything you need. I love that. I really do.
- To have fun. I also love that some of you are focused on the event itself, rather than the cause behind it. And that, too, is beautiful. Go forth and have fun with your dog! Enjoy every moment you can with them because that’s what it’s all about, right?!
With that said, let’s do this. See you at the Chase Away!