Jan Simonsen, ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) program coordinator and parent educator at Springfield Public School

Jan Simonsen receives ‘Angel of Hope Award’

Jan Simonsen of Fairfax recently received the Angel of Hope Award at the Renville County Walk in the Park: Research, Community and Hope event in Olivia.

Simonsen is ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) program coordinator and parent educator at Springfield Public School.

The Angel of Hope Award recognizes someone who has contributed time and energy to supporting members of the community who are fighting cancer. The American Cancer Society uses “hope” as a central theme at many of their events to remind people that it is important to have “hope,” especially in  moments when having hope may seem impossible.

2018 was the first year that the Renville county Relay for Life was officially known as the Renville County Walk in the Park.  Simonsen had an instrumental part of the transition from Relay for Life to Walk in the Park.  It became a mission of hers after a friend, Ann Orth, died in 2016. Simonsen said that Orth always felt that the organization needed to do something to keep some of the funds raised locally to help the people of Renville County.  

Over the years they were able to do just that. The Walk in the Park partners with both the American Cancer Society and the Renville County Hospital Foundation.  Half of the funds raised goes to ACS to support research and the Hope Lodge which houses and feeds patients and families during long hospital stays.

“I believe research is the key to a cure,” Simonsen said, “so we don’t want to eliminate that.” While research remains an important aspect of the event, the group also sought ways for more local control and benefits for the hard work being done by local people. “We want to see that money going to good use within our county,” Simonsen said.

“I was surprised,” at receiving the award,” Simonsen said. “I was humbled. There’s a lot of deserving people.” It was really a nice night. My family surprised me and all showed up.”

—Picture and excerpts from story provided by the Standard-Gazette & Messenger serving the communities of Fairfax, Morgan, Gibbon and Franklin.


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