The Rotary Club of Hesperia hopes to breed lots of love and smiles among High Desert seniors with its upcoming 2nd Annual Hesperia PetWalk from 8 a.m. to noon on May 10 at Civic Plaza Park.


According to Suzanne Edson, chairperson for the event, funds raised from the PetWalk will help to pay the adoption fees and sterilization costs for senior citizens who are looking to own a furry friend.


Edson says many older individuals are on fixed incomes and although they would love to have canine or feline companionship, they cannot afford the initial costs to adopt them and have them spayed or neutered.


"Many of our rotary members have a great interest in pets," said Edson, who also is a field supervisor for Hesperia Animal Control. "Together, we decided to focus on a fundraising event to help both animals and seniors. We feel our senior population is underserved, so we are very happy to be raising money for the purpose of making a difference in their lives."


The PetWalk is co-sponsored by the City of Hesperia, Hesperia Recreation and Parks District, Y102 FM, Kat Country 100.7 FM, 106.5 FM The Fox and Talk 960 AM.


Registration will open at 8 a.m. The festivities will kick off at 9 a.m. with a flag salute and the singing of the National Anthem, Edson said. Immediately afterward, Grand Marshal and KAT Country 100.7 FM DJ Jim "Jimmer" Dillman will lead participants and their pets around the perimeter of Civic Plaza Park (just over one mile). Dillman's new puppy Gizmo also will be at the front of the line.


"It is absolutely an honor for me and Gizmo to be the grand marshal for this event," said Dillman. "And the fact that so many seniors are going to benefit from it makes it even better. There is nothing more wonderful than seeing people's faces light up when they meet their new pet for the first time. Just ask Gizmo."


Edson says the walking portion of the PetWalk will take about 30 minutes. Afterward, vendor booths will open, as well as an area where people can adopt pets. The adoption center will be sponsored by the Victorville-based The Nutro Company, a manufacturer of pet foods.


"We were sponsors last year and were very pleased with how many pets found homes," said Monica Glass, senior corporate affairs manager for Nutro. "Our company loves to get involved in community events like the PetWalk and the chance to help animals has been awesome."


The cost to participate in the pet walk is $25 per person, which also allows for one animal. Admission also includes the opportunity to enter pets into various contests that will be held throughout the day. Among them will be cutest pet, ugliest pet, biggest pet, smallest pet and best pet trick. Prizes will include gift certificates and baskets that have been donated from local restaurants and businesses.


Edson says attendees must pay the $25 fee to enter the contest. A free T-shirt is included with admission, provided it is paid for prior to April 23.


Among the organizations that will have booths at the PetWalk are the Phelan-based Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary, the Hesperia Police Department's K9 Unit and several High Desert pet supply stores.


"It's really surprising how many pets are homeless here in the High Desert, so hopefully this event is going to go a long way in helping to get that problem solved," said Dillman. "And I'll do whatever I can to help both the animals and the people in our community."


Tickets for the PetWalk are available online at http://hesperiapetwalk.brownpapertickets.com.


They also can be purchased at Hesperia Veterinary Supply, 11011 Santa Fe Avenue East.


For more information, call 760-947-1630.