By Carol G. Stratton

DAVIDSON – Joanna Copio was in seventh grade when she and her family moved from Virginia to Davidson. To feel more a part of her community, she decided to volunteer to clean cages at Petco.

She soon felt like she wanted to do something more for animals that needed adoption. After talking with her parents, Jim and Diane, as well as shelter groups, she came up with the Pawz Too Run fundraiser.

The fourth annual event will be held 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. April 12 on the Davidson Town Green. It will feature a dog walk and a 5K run, as well as a live band, vendors and activities for the whole family.

What started as a family project, with she and her mother obtaining sponsors and her father in change of event logistics, has grown to involve committees of volunteers planning the event.  

The event has raised $24,000 for Friends of the Animals, a nonprofit that plans to open an adoption and pet education center off Exit 31 in Mooresville.

NASCAR driver Greg Biffle and his wife, Nicole, are members of the board of directors and have been part of this project since the beginning. The couple dreams of building a state-of-the-art center to teach responsible pet ownership and provide medical help for needy cats and dogs.

Copio, now a 17-year-old 11th-grader at Cannon School, also volunteers at school, organizing service projects such as car washes and bracelet sales for Muscular Dystrophy.

Copio works at LakeCross Veterinary Hospital in Huntersville. She wants to become a vet.


Want to help? Pawz Too Run features a 5K at 8:30 a.m., dog walk at 9 a.m. and dog contests and awards at 10 a.m. April 12 on the Davidson Town Green. Registration for the 5K or dog walk costs $25 before March 25 and $30 after. Sponsors, vendor and participant details: