Getting to Know Us – Meet Chelsea Katzeman, Community Manager, Relay For Life

In 2011 I participated in the Relay For Life of Kenyon College with my sorority because Relay was very popular at my school and everyone did it. A few months later, July 29 2011, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. He had never smoked, and we had no history of cancer in our family. He was given 6 months to live. It came out of nowhere to say the least. The next year, I got more involved with Relay at Kenyon by becoming the team captain for my sorority and I was the highest fundraiser at the event in 2012. My dad loved going to Relay with my mom and meeting other cancer survivors who were going through the same thing. In 2013, I joined the Relay committee as the Survivorship chair and my dad was able to attend the event. My dad loved us so much that he would do whatever it took to stay alive. He did every chemo treatment he could, a lifetime’s worth of radiation, experimental drug trials, and more.
On July 29, 2013, two years to the day of my dad’s diagnosis, my dad passed away at the age of 46. My dad loved Relay so much, that he asked that instead of flowers, donations be made to the Kenyon Relay for 2014, because I was going to be the event chair. I had already agreed to be the Event Chair, but after my dad died, I called my staff partner and quit for about a week because I didn’t think I could handle the emotional stress of Relay so soon after my dad passed away. However, she had faith in me, and the Relay my senior year raised over $53,000. After graduation, I wanted to continue to work to honor my dad memory, so I applied to work for Relay For Life jobs all across the United States. I didn’t care where I was, but I had to be doing Relay. The Portland, Oregon office hired me and I worked there for a year before moving to the same position in Maui where my family lives. My mom and dad planned to move to Maui during my dad’s cancer journey, but my dad passed away before he could make it out there. However, his ashes are scattered off Makena Beach, his favorite place on Maui. I go in to work every day because of my dad. I do what I do so that no one else has to experience what my dad or my family went through when cancer entered our lives. I invite everyone to get involved with their local Relay For Life event so that together we can Finish the Fight!