Laura Mayes will be the one on Sunday running through Derby Reach Regional Park, amid a pack of other animal supporters, a camera in hand.
The 46-year-old Clayton Heights woman is a five-year veteran volunteer for the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS).
And this weekend, she’s joining about 150 expected runners taking part in the shelter’s annual Furry Tails Foot Race.
Mayes started volunteering with LAPS as a dog walker and afternoon cat care aid.
“I knew I wanted to volunteer with animals and after researching the various local shelters and organizations, I chose LAPS,” she explained.
“I was drawn to them as they were a no-kill shelter, but stayed because of the staff and other volunteers who were so caring and, of course, the animals,” she added.
In her volunteer duties, Mayes quickly graduated to in-house photographer, snapping pictures of all the cats available for adoption. Since then, she’s started taking pictures of the dogs, as well, and now offers her shutter skills at various LAPS events.
“They use some of my photos on PetFinder, for the signs at LAPS, and on their Facebook page. Last year they used a slideshow I put together at the annual gala,” she beamed.
Her dedication to the cause is significant, said LAPS executive director Jayne Nelson.
“She is an awesome and long-time volunteer and is always active in trying to raise funds for us,” Nelson elaborated, noting early in the pledging process for the run Mayes was their lead fundraiser – although she’s since been surpassed.
“There is a lady who has already raised $1,300, which is so amazing,” Mayes explained, still pleased she’s surpassed her personal goal this year of $500.
Always excited to help the cause, Mayes explained how her appreciation for LAPS goes even further than volunteering.
She has since adopted two cats from the Aldergrove shelter.
“Maya and Luna are five years old and are affectionately referred to as The Taxi Cat Moms (they have their own Facebook page). In February 2014, they were sent to LAPS in a taxi. Both were pregnant and Luna started to deliver her kittens in the cab. Maya had her kittens a week later. They had a rough go of it. But thanks to LAPS, they received the best possible care. They were bonded sisters and I was extremely happy and honoured when LAPS selected me to be their forever-human,” she said.
Admittedly, participating in the Foot Race combines two of Mayes passions – her love for animals and running.
“I love running. I find it relieves stress and to spend time outside is soothing. Unfortunately, due to a very busy work schedule [as a office manager for the provincial government] for the past year, I haven’t been able to run,” she said, noting in past that she’s participated in the Vancouver Sun Run as well as the New Year’s Resolution Run hosted by the Running Room.
While she hasn’t been out much this year, she’s looking forward to getting out this weekend – camera in hand – for the Foot Race.
“I very much enjoy participating in this event. It is well run and the atmosphere is friendly and fun; not to mention it’s for a great cause! Derby Reach Park is absolutely beautiful and the volunteers who line the trail and the finish line are so motivating. As long as I am able, I’ll participate in this annual event,” Mayes said.
It’s not too late to sign up, Nelson said. People can find out more at lapsbc.ca.
This fundraiser is being held Sunday, April 29, with the race scheduled to start at 9 a.m. at Edgewater Bar in Derby Reach Regional Park.
There is a five and 10-km route. The five-kilometre leg is open to walkers, runners, and people wishing to run or walk with their “well-behaved” dogs, Nelson said.
“The funds we raise will be used to fund the operational costs for our new cat intake and isolation facility,” she added.