By KATIE ATKINS
OBSERVER Staff Writer
The RO Foundation brought communities together on Saturday in Fredonia for the third annual Patrick K. Coughlin Walk/Fun Run and Missing Links Community Connection.
The walk/run weaved through village streets and ended at the corner of Center and Church streets where several people gathered to form a human chain to show awareness to cancer patients and survivors in memory of Bob and Joan Link. Their daughter Maggie Owen is a co-founder of the RO Foundation.
Owen said, “It turned out to be a beautiful day. We’re very happy with the turnout.”
The foundation assists local patients and families, who have to travel to treatment centers and hospitals for long-term medical care, in the form of gas, food and lodging.
Dunkirk school teacher Jill Krzyzanowicz stood proudly with her support team of walkers, all wearing shirts saying, “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”
This year, Krzyzanowicz was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, an extremely rare form of cancer. Krzyzanowicz and her group walked to inform people of the disease.
“We’re going to make people aware of this,” she said.
She received a large donation from the RO Foundation on Saturday, all of which she returned.
“The RO Foundation is in our own backyard. They’re great people, they really are,” Krzyzanowicz said.
Fredonia resident Ashley Gagola, who was diagnosed in May with gastroparesis, a condition which hinders the body’s ability to digest food, was at the event and thanked the RO Foundation for their help.
Gagola said, “Words can’t describe how amazing it is. The community gets together and helps people out.”
People came from as far as Florida to take part in the walk/run. Proceeds also benefitted Rural Ministries and the Patrick K. Coughlin Scholarship Fund. A Chinese auction took place and there was music by Big Tone, Left of Center, Roll of the Dice and Rocking Richards Road Show. Coughlan’s Pub and 41 West helped host the occasion.
For more information about the RO Foundation or to donate, visit www.rofoundation.com.