Kendra Gehringer, Christine Randall, Donna Koch, Candice Bhatia and her dog Buttercup, Eric Newhart and Sheri Virgulak as they stand behind the bake sale table at the VCA Animal Hospital.
Photo by Jenneth Dyck/The Connection
The VCA Animal Hospital hosted a fund-raising “barke” sale on May 26 via the Canines-N-Kids Foundation. The foundation hopes to use the donations to further cancer research for children by studying cancer diseases in canines.
Candice Bhatia, the animal hospital manager, and Dr. Donna Koch, the associate veterinarian, both organized the sale after learning about the Canine-N-Kids Foundation.
“The team did a great job putting it together. Dr. Koch was really the driver behind it. She signed up and did everything with the hospital,” said Bhatia.
“Candice does a lot of work. She does a lot of baking, and I liked to bake...” Dr. Koch said.
“We shared the same passion of baking,” Bhatia added with a laugh.
For the first sale in what the staff hopes to be a recurring event, the donation goal was set at $50. By the end of the day, the bake sale reaped $65. Dr. Koch donated the goal amount plus $25 to Canines-N-Kids for a total of $75, and the remaining $15 was donated to Veterans Moving Forward, a local charity devoted to training service dogs for veterans.
During the sale, the founder of Canines-N-Kids, Ulrike Szalay, came to express her thanks for the support of the organization.
“I’m just thrilled that this wonderful VCA family jumped in on this with us,” said Szalay.
The Canines-N-Kids Foundation, established in 2016, is a nonprofit organization that works to raise funds and awareness for needed children’s cancer research. According to Szalay and the Canine-N-Kids website, cancers such as osteosarcoma, lymphoma and leukemia are virtually indistinguishable between children and dogs.
While the foundation claims that approximately 16,000 US children and over six million pet dogs are diagnosed with cancer yearly, only four medications have been approved for children’s cancer in the past two decades, and research funding is limited.
“I thought, ‘What if we leverage the much larger number of canine patients in which these cancers occur to help us potentially accelerate new discoveries for kids?’ It’s a beautiful story: one helping another,” said Szalay.
“We’re already planning next year,” said Bhatia. “We can have [the sale] more of an event. Get some more presence from the street, that kind of thing.”
The VCA Commonwealth Animal Hospital is located at 10860 Main Street, Fairfax, and can be reached at 571-403-9667 or through vcahospitals.com.