Never too old to Relay

Calling it quits would be too easy for a person like John Reed.

A cancer survivor of “13 or 14 years,” 83-year-old Reed, of Montoursville, has been more than helpful to the cause. He has been fundraising and increasing awareness of cancer, for almost 20 years, and has no plans to stop in the near future.

“I just think it’s important,” Reed said. “When I had cancer, I had a big success because of early detection – I still want to give someone else that same chance that I had.”

Reed is a survivor of prostate cancer, a cancer that, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is the most common form of cancer among men, no matter race or ethnicity. Additionally, it is the second most common cause of death in the United States among white, African American, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic men.

Of the 206,640 men in the U.S. who were diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 – 28,088 of them died from it.

And this is just one common form of many types of cancer that serve as the catalyst for people like Reed to partake in the “phenomenon to raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives.”

The coming Relay For Life of Williamsport will mark the 16th “phenomenon” in which he has participated.

But here’s the catch: an effort most do as a team, Reed now does alone, since his team dissolved. Many of the people who made up his team have since passed and instead of starting over, he decided to continue alone.

He still goes to two Relay events a year, the Tri-Town event in Hughesville, his hometown, and then again in Williamsport. At both events, he participates in the survivor walk and meal.

At 83 years old, Reed does it the old-fashioned way and collects donations by going door-to-door.

Though it may sound like a difficult feat to raise more than $1,000 alone, Reed says it’s not, mainly because he has had the same donors come back to him year after year. Currently he has between 30 and 35 donors.

“It’s not too difficult,” he said, adding that having the familiarity of the same donors year to year makes it fun.

“It’s very pleasing to go door to door and have them remember me. They just tell me to come on in,” he said.

Many clientele wait for him specifically to come around so they can make their donation. One of those donors is Kenneth Poust, of Hughesville.

“Nobody but John,” Poust said when asked who he donates to for Relay, and he has donated for almost 20 years.

“He’s a survivor, my wife wasn’t,” he said

Last year Reed raised more than $1,600. This year, his second year of going at it alone, he already has passed his goal of $1,500, hoping to end up with around $1,800.

“Ninety-nine percent (of the people he solicits) donate, that makes the job a lot easier,” Reed said.

A man who calls a totally pay-free, volunteer task as a job, clearly cares and sees what he is doing as a duty rather than a charity.

Giving back to those in need is not something he was unfamiliar with prior to Relay, though – he has been a volunteer at Valley View Nursing Center in Montoursville for 25 years.

“The Lord has been so good to me, the least I can do is give back,” he said.

If interested in donating specifically to Reed, contact him at 368-1298.