Coretta Scott King said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Local women have banded together to help fellow Lewis County residents after a cancer diagnosis. Through their compassion and with the help of the community, the efforts have grown into an extraordinary example of how to make a real impact in the lives of those facing the financial and emotional burden of cancer.
The Amazing Race
Joleen Peterson and Jessi Cox went to school together at Pe Ell Junior/Senior High School. Ten years ago they organized an exciting and fun fundraiser called The Amazing Race with all the proceeds donated to the Susan G Komen Foundation. After the success of that initial fundraiser and the support from everyone in the community, the pair decided to do another event with the proceeds benefitting a local family touched by cancer.
With each year that passed, the event became bigger and better. People in the community would reach out to Joleen or Jessi to make sure that it was still happening or to see if they could host or help. On average, they have about ten teams sign up with four to six people per team. Ten homes are hosts and each team race to a host home and do a task. The teams get points by completing tasks and finishing the scavenger hunt. They also can get spirit points for costumes, making up a team cheer, overall attitude, energy and enthusiasm. Winners earn a trophy and bragging rights until the next year.
The only criteria for being a recipient of the proceeds is that the person is a resident of Lewis County and has cancer. “There have been years that we know ahead who it will be,” says Jessi. “Then there are other times when we don’t know yet, but we start getting messages where one just stands out and we know they are the one.” The fun events raise anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000.
The family receiving the donations is able to do whatever they see fit with the money. Although much of the proceeds often end up going to medical bills, The Amazing Race founders want the family to be able to take a family vacation or pay for whatever is needed. Their purpose is about helping families to create lasting memories together.
A decade later the Amazing Race also evolved into a Facebook Benefit Auction coinciding with the race. For the first time ever they will be hosting an even more ambitious event called Band Together on March 21. The Band Together event will be held at the Lewis Pacific Swiss Society Hall and features live music, dinner and an auction. All the proceeds will go to Haley Richards of Pe Ell who has metastatic breast cancer/stage 4 bone cancer and Janice Cox of Pe Ell whose melanoma has returned.
“It has been really touching to see how the whole community, not just Pe Ell, has come together for these two women,” says Janelle Elliot, who with the help of Jessi Cox and Angie Brown run the Benefit Auction Facebook Page.
They are grateful to all the businesses and people who have given donations for the auction, especially The Tipsy Cowgirl who donated all their time to create the Band Together Clothing and Title Guaranty of Lewis County for being home base for anyone who would like to drop off donations.
Those who would like to help or have a donation can reach out to one of the amazing women involved. The benefit event is coordinated with the efforts of Janelle Elliot, Jessi Cox, Heather Cox, Angie Brown, Joleen Peterson, Mandy Nelson, Marcy Mason, Amy Cheney and Hillary Hoke. Tickets for the Band Together event can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets.
“The money is obviously helpful to the recipient and their family, but we have had so many people tell us that seeing our small community come together to support them and show them our love is the biggest help of all while they are going through a terrible time,” says Jessi.
Everyone has been touched by cancer in one way or another. When a loved one is given this devastating diagnosis, no one knows the right thing to say or do to make it better.
These amazing women decided to be proactive in helping families in our community affected by cancer. Remember while it’s easy to support charities that aid those suffering from cancer, a real and meaningful impact is made when neighbors help neighbors.