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Spirit of fun, family pervades A.D.O.P.T.’s annual Walkathon

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TribLocal Aurora
By Linda Kane, A.D.O.P.T. volunteer
March 30, 2011

A.D.O.P.T. volunteer Laura Vivas gets reacquainted with Eliza, formerly a shelter dog, at the 2010 Walkathon (photo courtesy of D. Picard).

Moms and dads bring their children; singles bring their friends.

Neighbors sit on their front porches and wave; others come to hang out with the dogs, drink coffee, visit the vendors.

You may see a cat, a ferret or a parrot, maybe even a turtle in a box!

Be a part of this, and more, at A.D.O.P.T. (Animals Deserving of Proper Treatment) Pet Shelter’s 18th Annual “Makin’ Strides for Strays” Walkathon, Sunday May 1, at Naperville’s 5th Avenue Station.

“It’s just a fun atmosphere to be a part of,” 2-year participant Deb Mantovani said.

Mantovani, an A.D.O.P.T. volunteer, said her entire family—husband, 5 year old, 17 year old, pets and herself—looks forward to the annual 5K (3.3 miles) Walkathon to raise money for homeless dogs and cats.

“Anything that can bring more meaning to your family is special,” Mantovani said. “This is one of our passions as a family; it’s really worthwhile.”

A.D.O.P.T. President Sandy Boston, who has been there since the first Walkathon 18 years ago, said it has grown from approximately 200-300 walkers to nearly 1,000 walkers.

Not to mention approximately 300-350 dogs.

“You really have to see it to believe it!” said Boston, who added that 60-70 percent of the walkers bring dogs, either their own or their neighbor’s, to accompany them along the way.

“Maybe half the dogs were adopted from A.D.O.P.T., so it’s cool to see who’s back,” Boston said.

Shelter volunteer Terri Bremmer, who’s been involved with the walk for the past 9-10 years, agrees.

“It is fun to see how [the dogs] look after they’ve been with a family for a while,” Bremmer said. “They have a different look about them. The shine is back in their eyes; even their coat looks better.”

Bremmer fondly recalls seeing Eliza, a former shelter dog, at the Walkathon. “The mom had made [Eliza] a bandana that had her name on it,” Bremmer said. “Her family is so thrilled to have her.”

In addition, Bremmer reunited with another shelter alumnus, Wrigley. “He wagged his tail and licked my face,” she said. “He didn’t forget me. He just wriggled all over and [gave] lots of kisses.”

Another shelter volunteer, Jan Abell, walks every year with one of her own boxers, Hank, also a shelter alumnus.

“He was probably the most popular dog that ever entered the shelter,” Abell said. “So (at the Walk) when everybody sees me, they ask, ‘Is Hank here?’ He has the nicest temperament of any dog we’ve ever had.”

Abell became involved with A.D.O.P.T. five years ago after the death of her 20-year-old Siamese cat. She says she “gave it eight months” before she looked for another kitty.

“I saw a Siamese cat on [the A.D.O.P.T.] website,” Abell said. “He had been abandoned in a Joliet alley, found almost frozen to death. [The shelter] literally brought him back to life.”

Abell wanted to adopt the cat, but said she had to qualify first. “They called my vet,” she said. “You have no idea how thorough they were to qualify me to take this cat. I was so impressed with the way they actually took an interest in the animals.”

The cat is now “a happy boy,” a family member along with her husband, 3 dogs and 3 other kitties.

“The animals [at A.D.O.P.T.] are so well taken care of,” Abell said. “So, if I’m going to donate my time and my money, that’s what I’m going to donate to. I know the money goes to the animals.

“There are so many that have survived only because of this place.”

Boston said the Walkathon, held on the first Sunday in May because it is “Humane Sunday,” a national event, is a “dog event, but the cats benefit, too, from the proceeds.”

“You are not just donating to a cause; you are part of it,” Abell said. “You are part of something that’s fantastic!”

For additional information about the May 1 Walkathon, go to www.adoptpetshelter.org.

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