'Dog gone' good time at Riley Park dog races for Mary Ashley - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

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'Dog gone' good time at Riley Park dog races for Mary Ashley

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Mary Ashley with Sophie, the wiener dog race grand champion. Mary Ashley with Sophie, the wiener dog race grand champion.
A flurry of ears, tails and tongues. A flurry of ears, tails and tongues.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – For a few hours this morning, a crowd gathered in the outfield at Joe Riley Stadium in downtown Charleston to laugh, cheer, and help bring awareness to a little girl in need.

"The Who Let The Dogs Out?" wiener dog races and costume contest was a fundraiser and awareness event for 10-year-old Mary Ashley Barbot. Young Barbot was born with Congenital Nephrodic Syndrome, so her kidneys have never worked the way they should have.

At two years old, she had a kidney transplant. Now she needs another because her body is rejecting that kidney.

That's where Saturday's day at the races came into play.

The event, organized by Jan Kirk and emceed by ABC News 4's Victoria Hansen, was designed to raise awareness for organ donation and maybe find Mary Ashley a suitable match. The money raised would go to support a donor with bills and expenses after the transplant surgery since that recovery process often takes weeks.

The races also had a much simpler goal of putting smiles on the faces of the Barbot family, a family who has spent  sleepless nights watching over their daughter and sister, as she undergoes 10 hours of dialysis at home every night.

That was a goal realized – it's hard not to smile and laugh when a dachshund in a pink dress races down a straightaway, oversized ears flopping, tail and tongue wagging.

Sure, the races had a few snags. There was the winner who decided the best route was to hop the fence and run along the outside of the track. There were the heats where the gate lifted and not a single dachshund left their starting blocks. There was the toddler who just couldn't wait for her beloved pet to cross the finish line and went to fetch him. And there was the contestant who darted down the track and into the RiverDogs infield for a run around the bases.

For contestants and the people watching, it was almost impossible not to laugh. Each mishap brought with it chuckles and guffaws from the stands.

The base runner even picked up a few cheers.

In the end, there were four dogs with just enough focus to win. Congratulations to Sophie, Ammo, Gigi and Mia, who took the top four spots in the races. It should be noted that Gigi managed a third place finish in a pink party dress.

Each of the winners picked up an award and a basket of prizes.

Some twenty steps above the field by the main entrance to the stadium, the crowd gathered around dachshunds dressed in costumes. Along with what must be the requisite wiener dog dressed as a hot dog – there was even one pulling a hot dog cart – there were dragons, a clown, a bumble bee, a unicorn, Santa Paws, and enough pirates to stage a mutiny.

And there were more chuckles and guffaws.

A little dog dressed as a clown was Mary Ashley's favorite, but best in show went to the hot dog tugging its own cart.

Organizers said they were in awe of the huge turnout on a steamy Saturday morning. It will take a few days to figure out exactly how much money the group of dog lovers raised, but Charlene Barbot, Mary Ashley's mom, said she was confident they raised at least $10,000 through the event.

But what could be measured Saturday morning were the smiles on the faces of the Barbot family. And those smiles were huge.

For more information on Mary Ashley, visit her website.

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