Friday, January 30, 2009

Citizen Of The Week

In the January 28 issue of the Polk County Pulse my wife Regina was featured as the Citizen of the Week. The article was titled "Regina Lawry - Running the Relay For Life". Michael Reisig was the writer. Here is the article as he wrote it.

Regina Lawry of Mena is a person on a mission. She is committed to The American Cancer Society's "Relay For Life" - the organization's number one fundraiser for cancer victims around the country. In a terrible irony, everyone in her immediate family has suffered with cancer - her mother, her father and all three of her sisters. She has taken it personally, and Lawry now does everything she can to combat this dreaded disease, ease the suffering of those who are dealing with it, and inform the public about the parameters of health and prevention.

Gina Speaking At The Relay For Life Kickoff

Lawry was born in Denver, Colorado. Her father was a tile setter and her mother was a housewife, but it was her grandmother who died when Lawry was only six, that left a lasting impression on her.

1556 Benton

"My grandmother wold take me to church - she was part of The Dorcas society, which made quilts, collected clothes and did other kindnesses for people who needed assistance in whatever fashion," she said. "I realized somewhere along the line, from her example, I wanted to be a person who did things for other people - the way a Christian should be."

Lawry graduated high school and went on to Union College in Nebraska. She graduated in 1975 and married her husband Richard that summer. She became an accountant and her husband became an auto body repair professional.

"After our daughter was born we realized that we were working so much and not able to spend the time together as a family," she recalled. "So we decided to visit Mena where Richard's family lived. We left Denver in February with below zero temperatures and arrived in Mena in 70 degree weather. It seemed like a real nice change...After visiting we decided to move to Polk County if our house in Colorado would sell. It sold two weeks later, and on Easter Sunday of 1981 we settled into country life.

Richie's Auto Refinishing

"It was a huge transition for me - a city girl - but after awhile I realized I had never felt like I belonged anywhere until I moved here," Lawry added. "It has proven to be a very good thing.

In 1976, just after she and her husband were married, Lawry's mother died of Leukemia. Her father later contracted colon cancer and all three of her sisters have battled breast cancer, so the struggle against this disease has become very personal. But she has seen the value of research and cures.

Bessie Patton

"My mother, while suffering with Leukemia, was a part of a study on bone marrow transplants at the University of Colorado Medical Center,' she recalled. "Twenty years later, my oldest sister received a bone marrow transplant that saved her life, from the same hospital. In 2000 I became involved in the Relay For Life benefit run. The Relay for Life benefits every kind of cancer research and is continually in the process of saving lives and providing money for research, information on cancer, and support in many fashions, including temporary housing for commuters to hospitals, transportatin costs, education, wigs, hats and a lot more.

I run the Credit Union at U.S. Motors in Mena but this - The Relay - is what I do, who I am." she continued. "I am just a little person from a country town, but I wanted to do something to help my children and my grandchildren remember me the way I remember my grandmother - serving other people."

Grandma And The Girls

Lawry attend every "Relay" she can and the latest, closest to home, will be in Mena on April 17 and 18 in Janssen Park.

"We want everyone to participate this year," Lawry said. "We need committee members, teams, and team members. The 'kickoff" is Thursday, January 29, at the Union Bank Hospitality Room. There will be free pizza, door prizes, and all the information you need on starting a team for families, churches, clubs, and employees of businesses. Last year we had 22 teams and raised $58,000. This year our goal is 24 teams and $64,000. There is hardly anyone who hasn't been touched by cancer in some fashion, and we need to take this seriously. Come join us in the Relay For Life."