EDISON, NJ – Man’s best friend took center stage October 11 at New Jersey ‘s first Canine Companions for Independence DogFest Walk ‘n Roll. Held at Roosevelt Park in Edison, the event featured pet- and family-friendly family activities, including food, raffles, games, a costume contest and canine agility course. 

Approximately 250 people – plus their canine friends – attended the DogFest Walk ‘n Roll and raised over $22,000 for the non-profit organization. DogFest is a fundraiser sponsored by Canine Companions for Independence’s New Jersey Volunteer Chapter. The money raised allows the organization to continue providing highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities at no cost. 

“DogFest Walk ‘n Roll New Jersey was a huge success for us, and we’re so grateful so many people turned out,” said Javier Robles, event chair, who was on hand with assistance dog Delbert. “It just shows that a lot of people in New Jersey care about assistance dogs and people with disabilities.”

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Among the local supporters was Green Brooks’s Mike Saverino. Born with Spinal Bifida, Saverino, 28, utilizes a manual wheelchair to get around and where ever he goes, his companion dog Akirra is by his side. Dedicated and thankful to the organization that provided him with Akirra free-of-charge, Saverino is a major advocate for Canine Companions and a huge supporter of this year’s DogFest.

Saverino personally raised $1,215 while his team – Team Akirra – raised $2,620 and was the top team contributor. In total, Saverino raised $3,835, exceeding his goal of $2,000 for the first New Jersey event by $1,835.

“Dog Fest was a huge success! I received so much support, which meant a lot to me,” said Saverino. “I hope next year’s dog fest is even bigger so that more people can receive these life-changing dogs.”

The California-based Canine Companions for Independence is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary of providing highly trained assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities. Established in 1975, Canine Companions – which has six training centers across the country, including CA, FL, OH, NY and TX, and has placed nearly 5,000 assistance dogs – is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between people and dogs. There is no charge for the dog, its training and a lifetime of ongoing follow-up services.

For more information, visit www.cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.