This story comes to us via Kat Chow.
Kat is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory, an advanced reporting class in which students produce news stories and packages for local neighborhood and ethnic newspapers and online sites.
Five years ago, way before she raised over $37,000 in total for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through the Winter Pineapple Classic, Peggy Snyder never thought she’d have to fight the disease she was already helping others fight.
This Green Lake resident started participating in the Hawaiian-themed, obstacle-filled 5K race to support her friend and fellow Adobe co-worker, Eric Cox, the event’s founder.
Cox created the race in 2006, after his two-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia and his wife was told she had breast cancer. Luckily, both Cox’s son and his wife were able to pull through — they’re both currently in remission.
“We got to a place where, once we were through the hard parts, we wanted control back,” Cox said when talking about why he teamed up with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to create the event.
Joined by her co-worker and friend, Elaine Mesh, Snyder stepped in and became one of the event’s top fundraisers, likely using her experience working in sales with Adobe to help rack up the funds.
But in December 2009, the Winter Pineapple classic became much more personal for Snyder.
What she originally thought was a rash on her legs turned out to be Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma.
“My doctor said, ‘People who have this die, but not from [the lymphoma],’” Snyder said, modestly downplaying her cancer. “But [my diagnosis] made me more aware of how many can be impacted by leukemia and lymphoma.”
She saw a specialist from the University of Washington for diagnosis and treatment, and got her lymphoma under control. At the next Winter Pineapple Classic in 2010, Snyder raised $16,000 for The Lymphoma & Leukemia Society, the highest amount of money she’d ever raised in a year — she had an even more compelling story, after all.
“It gave me a whole different view of what was happening [at Pineapple] and by the people who are impacted,” Snyder said.
Mesh, who moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, still flies to Seattle every year to compete in the race as Snyder’s partner. Together, they climb over the obstacle course’s walls and through its tires.
“It’s a reminder that we’re all connected together,” Mesh said. “[The Winter Pineapple] does help people who are struggling with illness to have support.”
And Cox, whose family is doing well — he and his wife just had another child — is especially grateful to Peggy for the support she has given.
“Peggy is a special person, she’s so selfless,” Cox said. “She’s always there for people, the Pineapple — with the utmost grace, she takes it.”
The 2011 Winter Pineapple Classic will be at Mountain Meadows Farm in North Bend on Saturday, Nov. 12.