Relay for Life: Two different stories, one cause
This year the Rosemount Relay for Life honorary chairs have two very different stories. The duty of chairing the annual event will be shared by two couples -- Kathryn and David Szott and Wayne and Jodie Rychwalski- who have had their lives ravaged by cancer.
One of the stories involves tremendous tragedy and the other great optimism. Despite the great differences in their stories both families hold onto hope that someday cancer will be defeated.
Cancer has claimed the lives of two of the Szott's three children. Their son Andrew and daughter Abby both died of unrelated childhood cancers. Andrew died in 1990 from a brain tumor and Abby passed in 2006 of bone cancer. Their son Brian is healthy.
Through their tremendous loss the Szott's felt a need to honor their children and help others so they established the Andrew and Abby Szott Foundation. The foundation provides the gift of time that allows a parent to stay home from work full-time to meet the emotional, physical and medical needs of a child with cancer.
Kathryn says she was able to stay home with both of her children as they battled cancer.
"I wouldn't change that experience for the world and we want to provide that same opportunity to others," said Kathryn.
The couple will talk about their loss and the hope that has come out of it during the Luminaria Ceremony during the Rosemount Relay for Life Friday evening.
"Our story is of tremendous loss but also of great love and hope," said Kathryn.
Wayne and Jodie Rychwalski have suffered the devastation of cancer in their own right. Turning 52 wasn't good for either. At that age Wayne was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Several years later, coincidentally also at the age of 52, Jodie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Wayne has gone through treatments and is now cancer free. Jodie continues to receive treatment but is doing well.
Wayne said he has participated with the Rosemount Relay for Life for several years as a member of the Knights of Columbus. He said they enjoy being part of it.
The Rychwalski's will share their story during the opening ceremony.
"We want to let people know that you can live with cancer," said Wayne.
Relay for Life
The Relay for Life raises money for the American Cancer Society, which uses it to fund research and raise awareness about the disease.
This year 26 teams will walk. Chair Nancy Kelly said that is down a little but is optimistic that they will still raise lots of money. The event raise $49,000 for the ACS last year.
Kelly said she's not sure they will raise that much again this year because of the economy but said any amount will be a boon to the cause.
"Whatever we raise it's going to help," Kelly said.
The opening ceremony will start at 6 p.m in Central Park. The Luminaria Ceremony will be held when the sun goes down, sometime after 9 p.m. A reception for survivors will be held at Rudy's Red Eye Grill at 3 p.m.
For more information or to donate visit www.events.cancer.org/rflrosemount.