CITIZEN OF THE WEEK March 10,2010 Polk County Pulse Article written by Michael Reisig
Richard Lawry enjoys traveling with his wife, he loves tinkering on old cars and spending time with his son and his daughter, but one of his passions in life is promoting awareness about cancer and raising funds to defeat this dreaded disease in all it's aspects, so that his grandchildren can grow up in a world with less risk of cancer.
Lawry was born in Tennessee but he was raised in Colorado, in the Loveland area.
"My dad had a used car lot and a body shop," he recalled. "When I graduated from high school in 1973, I went on to take over my dad's business. My parents moved to Polk County in 1977. I got married to my wife, Regina, and we visited my folks in Mena several times. We decided it would be a great place to raise kids so, in 1981, we moved here.
My wife had lived in Denver all of her life, so there was a degree of culture shock in the transition, but we settled in and came to love the place," he continued. "Now we wouldn't be anywhere else. My dad had a car lot here as well, so after we settled in, I opened a glass and auto-body shop (Richie's Discount Auto Glass) at his location. I've done that for the last 30 years. In the process we raised two children, Cynda and Gavin, and we now have two grandchildren."
Lawry said that over the years his wife developed a passion for promoting an awareness about cancer, because her family has been stricken by the disease several times. Her mother, father, brother, and three sisters have all had cancer.
"Regina chose this as her mission - to help foster awareness on this disease and to help combat it," he explained. "She became involved with a program called Relay For Life, which is sponsored by the American cancer Society. She first learned about it when visiting her sister in Washington State. They promoted the Relay there which is a relay team event wherein participants walk to show there support for cancer survivors, and honor those lost to the disease.
"This may have its sober moments but it's really a feel-good event because everyone is there to celebrate survival - the survivors are the stars of the event," he continued. "There is great entertainment and it's a fun time - it's a celebration.
Lawry said in 2007 Polk County held its first Relay For Life, and when he and his wife heard about this, they wanted to be part of it all.
"The first year we had one of the relay teams, which is really the fund-raising part of the event, Lawry explained. "Each team does their fund-raising for about a three month period leading up to the relay, then continues fund-raising at the actual event by selling food or participating in other activities. It's an all night thing.
"This year's event is April 23 and right now we have 23 teams and over 350 people signed up to participate in the fund-raising and the Relay itself," he continued. "The Relay shows community spirit because we are honoring individuals from this community."
Lawry continued by saying that it's necessary for people to understand that survival rates have increased dramatically in the last 30 years, and that's due in large, to cancer research, and much of this cancer research is funded by The American Cancer Society and its Relay For Life program.
"I relay for my children and my grandchildren, so they will face a world with far less risk of cancer," he said. "We have to continually make advances against this challenge. We would really like to have the community come out on April 23 and share this celebration with us -- to spread awareness and understanding. Anyone interested in being a part of this can contact me at 394-6172.
"We are also having a 'Bark For Life' Dog Show on Sunday, March 28, at the Polk County Fairgrounds at 2 p.m.," he added. "This is a fun sort of tongue-in-cheek affair, with awards for the ugliest dog, hairiest dog, best dressed, etc. Come out and join the fun, and be part of a wonderful, important mission."
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I was born in 1956 in Madison, Tennessee, while my parents were attending Madison College. I grew up along the Front Range in Colorado, attending schools in Longmont, Brighton, Boulder and Loveland, Colorado. Two years after graduating from Campion Academy, I married my sweetheart, Regina. We lived in Loveland, Colorado for six years before moving to Mena in western Arkansas.
I love the people of Mena and the friendly easy going way of life here. I have owned and operated my own business since moving to Mena. I enjoy the natural beauty of western Arkansas and being out of doors.
My newspaper column in The Mena Star, An Arkie’s Faith, premiered on January 7, 2016. In March 2017, I published my first book, titled The Little Things - Devotionals from a small town, using articles from the column. I published the second book in the Devotionals from a small town series, titled In the Fog, in December 2017.