Dogs had their day on Sunday as hundreds of canines and their owners came out for the fifth annual Bryan Clauson “Strut 2 Save lives” dog walk and fundraiser at Dillon Park in Noblesville.
Unlike the 2019 Strut, which took place on the last day of June and was a very hot day, Sunday’s weather was perfect for dogs and their owners, who made a lap around the park for the event that also included food, raffles, prizes, vendors and dog agility course, and raised $30,000 for the Indiana Donor Network to bring awareness to organ donations.
Hoosier race car driver Bryan Clauson died on Aug. 7, 2016, at age 27, following a dirt-track racing accident in Belleville, Kan. An organ and tissue donor, he saved many lives, including Bryan’s heart recipient.
The Indy 500 driver and short-track racing champion, a 2007 graduate of Noblesville High School, was the son of Tim and Diana Clauson of Noblesville.
Through organ donation, Bryan Clauson was able to save five lives, and he healed many others through tissue donation, according to the Indiana Donor Network Foundation, the charity of the fundraiser.
This year’s event attracted a record 250 participants, including a record 150 pre-registered, Emily Muller, a spokesperson for the Indiana Donor Network, said on Sunday.
Faithful supporter Courtney’s Kitchen of Noblesville served “Scrappy Joes” and hot dogs, fruit and more, while Harmony Ndabeni, a Noblesville Farmers Market vendor, served up chicken, beef and veggie pies. The vendor area included canine items, First Friend K-9 Training, Blackjack Animal Rescue and more.
In each of 2018 and 2019, the event also raised $30,000 each year for the charity.
Diana Clauson sported this year’s light blue “Strut to Save Lives” commemorative T-shirt and led the activities, including announcements of raffle winners of items donated from sponsors and donors.
Bryan Clauson started the dog walk as a fundraising project to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, in honor of classmate, the late Michael Treinen.
After Bryan Clauson died, the cause became the Indiana Donor Network.
The event, which originally took place in April then moved to June (Bryan Clauson’s birthday was June 15, 1989), was moved to September this year due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) pandemic. There were no kids games or bounce house this year.
“Wonderful weather,” Diana Clauson said. “I think we’re going to continue this event in the fall. Cooler for the dogs for sure. Last year it was like 98 F.”
At this year’s event, she said, “We’ve had the most pre-registrations we’ve ever had. Our vendor area has grown which makes me happy. It’s been a lot of fun this year.”
Bryan Clauson had a special love for his dogs, Chevy and Stewart, and traveled with them to every track.
“Bryan was very passionate about dogs,” his mom said. “He loved his dogs. That’s why we started the dog walk.”
Taylor Clauson McLean, Bryan's sister, said, "It's just a way for the community to come out and really celebrate who Bryan was, through and through, both with his love of dogs as well as celebrating the fact that he was an organ donor.
Diana Clauson now is all about awareness. “We’re just here to raise awareness for organ donation.” She encourages people to “talk to your families about organ donations so everybody in your family knows what your wishes are.”

The community support has been amazing since Bryan’s death.
Bryan Clauson Suite Tower was built and opened in 2018 at Knoxville Raceway, home of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa. Bryan had raced at the Knoxville Nationals for three years.
An historic marker was erected on April 8, 2017, in his name at Noblesville’s Forest Park. At the 2017 Indy 500, Bryan was recognized during the 100th lap; he led the 100th lap of the 100th running of the Indy 500 in 2016. Also, Pit Row, Garage No. 21, in 2017, was dedicated to Driven2SaveLives, Indiana Donor Network’s campaign to honor Bryan Clauson.
Although she will always feel sadness about the tragedy of her son, Diana Clauson said, “We’re trying to continue our journey, raising awareness to people. It makes our hearts feel full.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.