It is rare to find a 16 year old that is passionate about helping others and selflessly serves his or her community but to Ryan Washkowiak of Tilton, Illinois there was no question on the matter when both his grandmother and aunt passed of cancer.
“There had to be something we could do for our community,” Ryan explained after learning about the high rates of cancer that not only affected his family but also his friends and neighbors in the Danville area.
According to the OSF HealthCare Cancer Registry, OSF HealthCare sees approximately 4,900 new oncology cases per year, making OSF one of the largest cancer providers in the state.
Never having done anything like this before, Ryan spent countless hours researching how to plan and organize a fundraiser that would bring awareness to the patients and families that were receiving cancer diagnoses. His goal was to give back to the center that treated and cared for his aunt. Shortly after, the inaugural Tilton Toe-to-Tow 5K was born.
Serving with humility
Now at the age of 20 and three years of events under his belt, Ryan has a team of friends and family that rally around him and support his fundraising events. From car shows to runs, Ryan humbly gives back to his local community and coordinates raising money for cancer.
With his most recent gift of $10,000, Ryan presented his donation check at the annual Festival of Trees Gala in 2018 and was recognized for his leadership and active participation in giving to cancer care and support services at OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center.
The young advocate stated, “At the end of the day, it’s not about me. I am blessed with an amazing family and friends that serve as my support group and I know not everyone has that, so in return, I want to be that for others.”
Ryan is a 2017 graduate of Danville High School and recently graduated in May 2019 with his associate’s degree and plans to attend Indiana State University this fall.