Volunteer of the Week: Bob ByersPublished 9:19am Thursday, July 17, 2014
Bob Byers, of Niles, is chairperson of the Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life, an event that raises money for the American Cancer Society taking place Saturday and Sunday at the Niles High School football field.
Q: How long have you been involved with Relay in Niles?
It’s been about 10 years. It is my first time as chairman, although I’ve been chairman of the logistics committee in the past.
Q: How did you originally get involved?
Well, my wife pulled me into it. She felt led by our church — we go to Hope Community Church — and she wanted to get Hope there. When your wife drags you somewhere you end up helping out.
Then, in 2009, she got cancer. At the same time my son also got cancer — he was a Marine. So it struck home even harder. My wife contracted the same cancer that took my mother. My mother passed away from cancer 25 years ago. It really struck home that the cancer she had, which is now in remission, went into remission because of what the American Cancer Society was able to do through their research dollars. So, somewhere somebody donated money to help create a cure. I have my wife and son still around thanks to those donations.
Q: Why is supporting Relay important?
We have so many people out there that are suffering because of cancer in some form or another. It goes back to that I don’t know who to thank for that last dollar that went to the cure that saved my wife’s life. If we look at it that there are a lot of people out there — if everyone brought one dollar, it could be a cure dollar.
The other part is that if you have ever been a caregiver for someone that has cancer, you realize how much courage they have. I am former military. I was in Beirut when we were in war over there back in the early ‘80s. I saw a lot of brave men, but I’ve never seen the bravery that you would see in a cancer patient walking into a chemo room knowing that their body is about to be injected with poison. The courage you see there and their attitude is just heartwarming and is something we need to honor. We need to raise those survivors up. We also need those survivors to be around each other to share their experiences and lift each other up.
The final portion is I lost both my parents to cancer, so part of Relay is about remembering those we have lost to cancer. We need to honor their memories not just by going to the gravesite once a year, but by saying ‘you did not die in vain.’
We are going to make sure that we are not going to let other people lose their parents because we know how it feels.
Do you know a volunteer worthy of recognition? Nominate him or her as the Volunteer of the Week by calling Craig Haupert at (269) 687-7720, or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.