LIMA — Among the 2019 winners of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, perhaps none are being recognized for volunteer efforts which so closely mirror their “day jobs” than is Cheryl Nagy.
With a career spanning more than 30 years in oncology nursing, it would be reasonable to believe Nagy would, in her free time, need to escape the world of pain and suffering that cancer patients often endure.
Quite the opposite. Over the past quarter of a century, Nagy in her free time has been a driving force behind the American Cancer Society’s annual fundraiser in Lima, the Relay for Life.
“It’s very rewarding. Evidently this was the niche God wanted me in,” Nagy said.
The Relay, which started ago as a 24-hour, around-the-clock event at Shawnee High School, has morphed over the years to a six-hour celebration that found a home at Spartan Stadium in Lima. This year’s event will take place beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, June 21.
The transformation from an around-the-clock marathon to a shorter celebration, Nagy said, is a result of event organizers listening to the people they serve. Cancer survivors favored the less expansive format.
“Most of the money raised during the Relay for Life is raised prior to the event anyway, so we decided to make the change,” said Nagy.
More than $2 million has been raised locally during the 25 years Lima played host to a Relay event, Nagy said. Last year alone, there were three separate Relays in Allen County, raising more than a combined $100,000.
Nagy stressed that all money raised is used for cancer research and patient support.
Allie Hermiller, the director of the American Cancer Society for Northwest Ohio, had nothing but praise for Nagy’s leadership and commitment.
“Cheryl has been the face of the Relay For Life in Lima for the past 25 years. She is dedicated, passionate and determined to make her community a better place. Through her volunteer efforts with ACS, she serves as the event chair for Relay, sits on our Volunteer Leadership Council and is an advocate for all cancer patients.
“Cheryl is a true inspiration, and the American Cancer Society is honored to have her as a volunteer.”
Ron Freed, who nominated Nagy for the Jefferson Award, said she has touched the lives of thousands of area residents.
“Cheryl knows how to touch people’s lives in their darkest moments and has worked to eliminate the cause of that darkness – cancer,” Freed said. “Cheryl Nagy is a community hero and shining example of what a Jefferson Award recipient should be.”
The region’s representative to go the national Jefferson Awards for Public Service event in Washington, D.C., will be announced Tuesday.