Ripley “Rip” Schumacher is living proof that cancer doesn’t discriminate based on age.
The 9-year-old Montesano resident’s battle against leukemia started about a year ago — just 10 days after his youngest sister, Zoe, was born. Rip had been complaining of stomach pains for several days, and his father, Brian Schumacher, finally decided enough was enough and took him to the hospital.
“Within two hours, they diagnosed him,” Brian Schumacher said. “And within 12 hours, he began treatment.”
But in August, the family received good news: Rip was cancer-free. And Friday night, he proudly led the Survivor Lap at the Relay for Life of East Grays Harbor, hosted at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds in Elma.
“You cannot be doing better than he is right now,” Brian Schumacher said.
He’s still receiving some treatment, and showed off the medication port on his chest through his T-shirt.
For Rip, the best thing about his recovery is that he was allowed to play baseball again — he had to leave Relay early to play in his last Little League game of the season.
“I wasn’t allowed to turn out for fall ball, but I got to play again this season,” Rip said. “That made me pretty happy.”
The event is a little different for veteran survivor Kathleen Vaughn, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. As she walked the track with her husband, Steve Vaughn, she didn’t just remember her own battle — she also commemorated her mother who died of cancer.
“I’ve done this a bunch of times,” Kathleen Vaughn said. “I started at the Hoquiam event before I found out that I had cancer, before there was a Relay in East Grays Harbor.”
Kathleen Vaughn said it feels good to spend 24 hours each year with other survivors — especially in her home town.
“I’m just so grateful for everything,” Kathleen Vaughn said. “It’s nice to to be out here with people who have been through the same thing and made it through.”
This year, Relay for Life of East Grays Harbor participants hope to raise $66,000. Before the event started Friday evening, 20 teams and 206 participants had collected $18,489. But the most important part of the event is supporting cancer patients, said event chair Marsha Hendrick during the opening ceremony.
“When you become part of Relay, you become part of a community that supports cancer patients,” Hendrick said. “This community continues to impress and inspire me. Cancer is a disease that never sleeps, and that’s why we walk for 24 hours.”
Relay for Life of East Grays Harbor will continue until today at 6 p.m.
UPCOMING RELAY EVENTS
RELAY FOR LIFE OF WILLAPA BAY
Location: Raymond High School
Time: noon July 19 to noon July 20
Fundraising Goal: $45,000
BARK FOR LIFE OF EAST GRAYS HARBOR
Location: Vance Creek Park
Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 28