Manhattan residents listened to live music, got their faces painted and participated in a 5K race Sunday to help raise awareness for rabies.
The K-State World Rabies Day celebration was held at CiCo Park. Organizations like the Alliance for Rabies Control and the Pre-Vet Club at K-State sponsored the event, which lasted from noon to 4 p.m.
Children in attendance had their faces painted, played with balloon animals or jumped in the Octabounce. Local bands provided live music as runners prepared for the 5K race. Even Willie the Wildcat made a brief appearance.
A variety of speakers presented throughout the day, including Dr. Erin Kennedy, member of the rabies team at the Centers for Disease Control, and Patricia Payne, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.
Topics addressed ranged from rabies awareness to the correct way for children to approach dogs. Booths and displays from various organizations like the Humane Society and the International Veterinary Student Association were also there.
Event coordinator Mylissia Stukey, research associate at K?State, said the goal of the celebration was two-fold.
“We want to reach out to the public and educate them about rabies, as well as raise funds for the Alliance for Rabies Control,” Stukey said.
Stukey said K-State was the first university in the country to celebrate the event. K?State then contacted other universities across the nation, hoping to create more awareness for World Rabies Day. This year, 27 other universities celebrated the event, and 62 countries held similar celebrations.
While rabies is not a persistent issue in the United States, it is a serious killer in other countries like Africa and Asia. Stukey said about 55,000 people die each year from rabies. The proceeds from the event went to the Alliance for Rabies Control to help fight rabies.
About 40 volunteers and 20 sponsors made the event possible.
Carly Shumaker, staff member at the K-State rabies lab, said she was enthusiastic about the turnout for the day.
“Everyone who attended seemed incredibly interested,” Shumaker said.
More than 300 people attended the event, including Melaz Matta and her dog Sophie. Matta said she enjoyed the activities.
“I really liked all the speakers and the live music,” Matta said, “I would definitely attend this again in the future.”
Shumaker said she hoped for an even larger crowd next year.
“We’re hoping for bigger and better things in the future,” Shumaker said.