By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
Jones County has a new advocate with the American Cancer Society: Andrea Goedderz.
She’s been with the ACS for five years, and will now work with Jones, Cedar, Clayton, Clinton and Delaware counties.
Goedderz started out as an intern with the ACS during college in Forest City, Iowa. She worked in the Mason City office, helped with the annual Daffodil Days and Relay For Life events for four counties in northern Iowa.
“I really enjoyed working for the American Cancer Society and working with so many passionate volunteers,” stated Goedderz.
After college, she continued on with the ACS full-time. She was offered a position with the organization in Anchorage, Alaska, working with communities across the state. After a year and a half, Goedderz moved back to Iowa, now located in the Dubuque office. She’s been back here for three and a half years.
Throughout her five years with the ACS, Goedderz has held such positions as Community Relationship Manager, Community Relations and Senior Community Relations.
In taking over the above-mentioned counties for Jodi Federspiel, who was promoted within, Goedderz said she jumped at the opportunity.
“I have always wanted to live in Eastern Iowa and had heard so many great things about the volunteers and events in this area. I truly enjoyed my almost four years in Northern Iowa, but was ready for change and this one seemed to be a perfect fit,” she said.
Working with the five counties, Goedderz said she would work with locals to raise awareness about the ACS. One of her busiest functions will be the annual Relay For Life events.
“I am always available and able to help talk with teams, sponsors, volunteers and media about the American Cancer Society and the events that we have. I strive to be a great resource for all that the American Cancer Society is able to do in the fight against cancer along with providing support for our fundraising efforts in the area.”
Like most of the volunteers and people associated with the Relay For Life events, Goedderz is no stranger to cancer. She grew up in a small farming town, not unlike Monticello, in central Minnesota. Her parents are both elementary school teachers.
“My connection to cancer started when I was very, very young,” expressed Goedderz.
Her grandmother passed away from lung cancer shortly after Goedderz was born.
“She was the main reason I practiced a tobacco-free lifestyle all of my life and got involved with so many anti-tobacco events growing up,” Goedderz said of her grandmother.
As she got older, she said more and more loved ones were touched by cancer, including her father. He is now a survivor of skin cancer. Goedderz said a good family friend of theirs from her hometown in Minnesota lost her battle with breast cancer.
“She is the reason I am Relaying this coming year,” said Goedderz of attending the Relay For Life.
Not unlike herself, Goedderz said working with so many passionate volunteers is one of the reasons she loves her job with the ACS.
“The way that everyone comes together with one goal in mind is truly inspiring and makes me work harder each day.”
She said the ACS helps motivate you and drives you to want to be successful in all that you do.
“It reminds you that we are truly saving lives with the work that we do everyday,” she said. “I truly could not imagine working for another organization.”
Goedderz said it is because of events like the Relay For Life that make it possible to fight back against cancer through funding research, education, advocacy and patient services. They promote awareness, early detection and research. Goedderz said the ACS is the second largest funder of cancer research, next to the U.S. government.
She said volunteering for the Relay For Life can be a “life changing event.
“It brings so many people together to remind them of why they must fight back, that together we can create a world with less cancer,” she said.
Throughout a Relay event, the survivor lap, luminaria ceremony and more are awe-inspiring, an experience Goedderz said everyone should experience.
“Relay is truly about a community that takes up the fight and to show that we can make a difference.”
You don’t have to have a connection to cancer to get involved in your local Relay For Life. Goedderz said when she first started with the ACS, she had no idea what the Relay For Life was all about.
“All I knew was that it was a great way to fight back against cancer,” she said of the event.
In 2007, she went to her first Relay and, as she put it, “really got it!
“It was more than just a fundraiser – it was a chance for everyone to help out in the fight. A change for people to come together and honor those fighting cancer, to remember the ones we have lost and then to truly fight back against a disease that has taken way too much from us while creating a world with less cancer for the next generation.”
As we speak, the ACS and local volunteers are working on planning the Relay For Life in 2013. Goedderz said they are still looking for volunteers who are interested in helping with the event. A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m. at Kirkwood Jones Regional Education Center in room 222.
“I am very excited to be working with everyone in Jones County and am looking forward to meeting everyone,” said Goedderz. ”I also am very thankful for those who continue to support the American Cancer Society; we truly could not be doing what we are doing without your support.”
PHOTO: Andrea Goedderz is the new American Cancer Society staff person covering area counties, including Jones County. Come meet Goedderz on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 6 p.m. during the countywide Relay For Life meeting at JREC. (Photo submitted)