Valparaiso Police's K-9 division hosted their very own Guardians of the Night 5K and 1 mile dog walk on a gorgeous Friday evening. The event was hosted at the Central Park Plaza and featured not only the walk and 5K but a concert from Chicago's Libido Funk Circus, a presenting of bullet proof vests for the dogs, and a grand fireworks display after sunset. All of the proceeds raised at the event went to keeping Valparaiso's K-9 strong.
A record number of runners and walkers attended this year's event. Todd Kobitz, one of the main organizers of the event and member of the K-9 unit, couldn't of been happier with all of the people that came to support something that's dear to him.
"It's great! It's way more than we've had in the past. It's an evening run which is great because it allows everyone to come along and it definitely helped that the weather is awesome tonight," Kobitz said.
The support of the community was vital to the survival of the K-9 department as it allows for the dogs to be trained, necessary equipment to be bought, and a unit that is extremely important to the four officers who work with the dogs everyday to be kept. It's something that not only are the officers passionate about, but to Valparaiso's Police Chief Michael Brickner as well. He said that the support for the night's event was outstanding.
"Our dog program would've been in jeopardy if it wasn't for the great people in our community. I'm extremely proud of our officers to see their hard work turn out as great of a success as this has become," Brickner said.
As any race, there wouldn't be one without the dedicated people who run them. There were regular 5K'ers amongst the crowd but even though they are seasoned runners, not so seasoned runners took a part in the race. Char Buibish decided to make Guardians of the Night her first ever 5K.
"It's something I wanted to get crossed off of my bucket list. My two daughters talked me into it. I was more than nervous but I crossed the finish line and I feel accomplished," she said.
She, and many others, were cheered along from their family and friends on the sidelines. All of them finished the race with smiles strung across their faces - even the dogs had a hint of smirk.
The event had many vendors as well to keep the attendees, both human and dog alike, satisfied. The Hungry Truck, Vale Park Animal Hospital, Valpo Velvet, and Smoochie Pooch amongst others added to the night's festivities. After the 5K and one mile dog walk were finished participants hung back and enjoyed the setting sun. The ballistic vests for the dogs of the K-9 division were presented by a producer for Case Files Chicago during that time and after trophies were presented to the top placing runners.
Eventually the night came to a close with a bang. A fireworks display presented by Pet Supplies Plus lit up the sky and ended the evening on a perfect note.
Congratulations to the hard working officers and their dedicated canines on their wonderful fundraiser. The night went off without a hitch and hopefully so will next year and the many years to come.