Race For Hope Ambassadors & Race Director

Jean & the ambassadors

Ambassador’s Announced to Lead the June E. Nylen Cancer Center Race for Hope 2015:

Two champions for cancer awareness – one who has been running and participating in the Race for Hope for many years, and one who has a personal connection to fighting cancer– are combining their efforts and enthusiasm to promote this year’s Siouxland Race for Hope.

The 19 Annual Race for Hope, set for Saturday, September 19 at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in McCook Lake, S.D., is expected to draw hundreds of people for its 5- and 15-kilometer walk/run and 1-kilometer kid’s fun run. The 2014 event raised more than $55,000, with 100 percent of the funds staying in the Siouxland area to enhance the quality of care given to cancer patients and their families through the June E. Nylen Cancer Center in Sioux City.

Hoping to make this year’s event an even bigger success is the 2015 Honorary Youth Ambassador Kaia Downs and Honorary Race Ambassador Leslie Walker.

Kaia Downs, the 2015 Honorary Youth Ambassador is an 11 year old getting ready to start middle school. Kaia was in her first “run” when she was 13 months old and has been running ever since. She has participating in the Race for Hope many times as well as many other events and triathlons. Last year she qualified to move onto the regional triathlon competition in Des Moines. She comes by running naturally as her grandma, Chris Poeckes is in the Missouri River’s Runners and coaches cross country and track at West High. Her father, Ryan Downs Army Sgt., has had Kaia participate as part of the Army team in their local run/walk.

“I have attended this event to run many times,” Kaia says. “My goal is to get other kids involved in this race to support the Cancer Center.”

Leslie Walker, the Race for Hope Ambassador, is a Judicial Assistant in Sioux City. Leslie is an advocate for the Race for Hope as the monies stay local. She has a direct connection to this event as a cancer survivor. “I was diagnosed with lung cancer in January of 2013, this came as a shock as I had never smoked and I was healthy, working part-time as a fitness instructor,” says Leslie. “During a routine eye exam they found a tumor. Through testing they determined it was a tumor that metastasized from somewhere else in her body, and they found the primary cancer in my right lung.” Leslie credits early detection, being healthy and her cancer care for getting through her journey. Her goal is also to get friends and family and the community to participate in the Race for Hope as well as to spread the word that early detection is the key.

Among the other volunteers working and racing alongside the ambassadors will be Jean Gill, volunteer race director who has been the key to 18 successful Race for Hope events. One of the changes Gill helped to change was the price to participate for those age 19 and under, now $15, and kids age 10 and under are only $10.

Registration for this event is online at www.siouxlandraceforhope.com. Your registration includes a free dry fit shirt. For more information go to the website or call the June E. Nylen Cancer Center at (712) 252-0088.

Post by Robin McGinty

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