Unleash the fun, help charity - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Unleash the fun, help charity

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Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 6:10 am | Updated: 7:07 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The pink and purple polkadot bikini will come out again this Saturday — as Princess tries to retain her title.

Beethoven, though, will dress as a fisherman.

The Chihuahua mix and Shih Tzu, respectively, are among dozens of canines that will compete in a dog beauty contest at the seventh annual 2007 Walk for Kids and Doggie Beach Party to raise money for Gabriel’s Angels. More than 10,000 people are expected to attend the event at Gilbert’s Cosmo Park.

“We never miss it,” said Stephanie Miller of Tempe, a volunteer for the group, who has attended all of the events with her three daughters and two dogs, Princess and Beethoven. “Princess won I think twice. She’s getting pretty full of herself.”

Gabriel’s Angels is a nonprofit pet therapy group that uses 92 therapy dogs and one therapy cat to teach abused children empathy, love and trust — and help them recover from emotional injuries.

As of last year, the group has provided therapy for 1,000 children. The Mesa-based group just expanded and has begun therapy in Tucson.

Pam Gaber, founder of Gabriel’s Angels, said the fundraising event moved to Cosmo Park this year in an effort to attract more attendees and make use of the new park, which includes a doggy beach and amphitheater.

The Gilbert Town Council waived $2,200 in rental fees for the event.

Gaber’s dog Gabriel, now 8, was born in Gilbert, and became a therapy dog after Gaber saw the way abused children reacted to her then 1-year-old Weimaraner, dressed as Rudolph, during a Christmas party.

“I see these dogs making these children feel safe,” Gaber said. “They feel unconditional love maybe for the first time. In my ideal world, Gabriel’s Angels wouldn’t exist because children wouldn’t be abused.”

Saturday’s event begins with a two-mile fun walk at 9:30 a.m., followed by a beach party.

Walkers who raise the most funds for the organization can win vacation trips, including a Disney vacation for four.

The party will include doggie beachwear contests and a new Pet Piazza with activities for families and pooches, including nail clippings. The Radio Disney street team will provide live performances, and there will be games for kids.

Going to the dogs

What: 2007 Walk for Kids and Doggie Beach Party

When: Saturday — registration for the walk is 8:30 a.m. and the walk begins 9:30 a.m.; the beach party is 10:30 a.m. to noon.

Where: Cosmo Park, 2502 E. Ray Road (northeast corner of Ray and Greenfield roads), Gilbert.

Contact: (480) 460-5333 or www.petshelpingkids.org

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