The Fifth Anual Chase Race and PAWS event prompted hundreds of dogs and around 675 runners to brave cold, wind and early-morning hours on Saturday.

In the name of charity, dogs, runners and animal lovers raced in either a 1- or 2-mile race around a course in the parking lot of Petsmart in Conway. 

Beneficiaries of the fundraiser were Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the Friends of the Conway Animal Shelter.
The groups banked more than $13,000 in the event through sponsorship this year, passing the $11,500 raised in 2009.

Don Potter of Conway is the director of the event, held in honor of his son, Chase Potter (1991-2005), who suffered brain trauma, and also was a runner and lover of animals.

“The race commemorates my son, I get emotional when I talk about it. It’s a special event,” Potter said.

The Friends of the Conway Animal Shelter were present with several adoptable dogs wearing event vests that read “Adopt me.” 

Potter said Saturday morning, seven dogs were placed in homes. Some of those who adopted animals walked into Petsmart to have their new family members groomed, and to purchase collars, leashes and toys immediately.

“The people who help me, help me every year. Most of them have been with me for five years. I even ran the race myself. I asked myself why I was standing around there when no one needed me and I ran it,” Potter said. “It was the best race we’ve ever had. We were prepared. We had great numbers.”
Potter said he was thankful for prestigious judges taking time out of their schedules to judge the event’s dog costume contest.
“Where else can you get the police chief to do that for you? And the publisher of the newspaper; all of our judges were appreciated,” Potter said.

Judging the costume contest were Rick Fahr, publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat, A.J. Gary, police chief, Melissa Longing of The Carpet Center and Shona Osborne, manager of the Conway Animal Welfare Unit.

Potter said sponsors were accommodating “in every way.”
“Our sponsors were kind. Petsmart was conscious of our needs and agreed to whatever we needed. They said they’d open their store and move everything if weather was bad. I can’t say enough about it,” Potter said.

Winners of the 2-mile race, women’s division, were Kaitlin Bounds of Russellville in first place, Bethany Walker of Russellville in second place and Amy Smith of Russellville in third place.

Winners of the 2-mile race, men’s division, were Keith Barrett of Perryville in first place, Brian Sieczkowski of Sherwood in second place, and Caleb Mays of Arkadelphia in third place.

Winners of the 1-mile race, women’s division, were Kelly King of Conway in first place, Gabrielle Peoples of Searcy in second place and Debbie Bextermueller of Cabot in third place.

Winners of the 1-mile race, men’s division, were Zach Smith of Conway in first place, Randy Ohide of Conway in second place and Michael Ferryall of Conway in third place. 

Photos of costumed dogs and racers of all kinds can be found at the Spotted gallery at spotted.thecabin.net.

(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at courtney.spradlin@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)