Annual event held in Waupaca
By Holly Neumann
WAUPACA – Survivors, caregivers, doctors, family and friends spent an evening walking around Waupaca High School’s gym to help raise funds for cancer research and support.
The annual Relay for Life Waupaca took place on Friday, June 10.
Among the walkers were emergency service personnel from across the county, participating in the Emergency Service Mile.
They walk in memory of Wally Rasmussen, Manawa’s former assistant fire chief. He first organized the team when he himself was diagnosed with cancer.
“Wally would be so proud,” said Josh Smith, who now organizes the Emergency Service Mile. “Knowing we are still doing this would have made him smile.”
Rasmussen lost his battle with cancer in 2013.
“This is a brotherhood,” Smith said. “We have walkers representing the Iola, Scandinavia, Manawa, Ogdensburg, Waupaca, Clintonville and Weyauwega departments. We all know someone that has or is still battling the disease. This is a great way to show our support.”
Also walking with the departments were members of the Rasmussen family.
“I think Wally opened a lot of eyes about cancer awareness,” said his wife Nancy Rasmussen. “The battle he fought was a tough one.”
Nancy Rasmussen credited Smith for keeping the walk going.
“He is the best and sweetest person, to keep Wally in mind every year,” she said.
She said she still gets teary-eyed when coming to the event.
“I come to see all the people and to show my support,” she said. “This is the third year of walking without Wally. It just doesn’t seem right that he is not here.”
She noted that being a caregiver to someone battling cancer is a tough job.
“I think being a caregiver can be as difficult as having cancer. It’s hard watching the person you love struggle and in pain, but you have to go on,” she said. “You have to love every day that you have together.”
“Nancy was there every day,” said Wally’s father, Neil Rasmussen. “She was a wonderful wife to him and always went above and beyond.”
Neil and his wife Mary Ann still struggle with the loss of their son.
“He was a wonderful man,” Mary Ann said. “We made a promise to be with him every day and we were. He served his purpose here on earth, now he is no longer suffering and that is a blessing.”
The family offers this advice to others that a still fighting the disease.
“Live every day to the fullest and stay as positive as you can” said Wally Rasmussen’s daughter, Lisa. “Love your family, love your friends, this is life changing.”