A worthy ‘chairman,’ indeed

It’s refreshing to hear about a young person like Katelyn Richards, who took time out this summer from the many activities and distractions of teen life, directing her attention instead to helping a family enduring great setbacks and the challenges emanating from them.

As reported in a front-page article in the Aug. 19 edition of the Mirror, Katelyn, who is only 14, took the lead in organizing a 100-mile motorcycle ride benefiting 7-year-old Abigail Boyer of Warriors Mark, who is battling a dangerous form of skin cancer.

That ride, dubbed “Ride for Abigail,” took place Aug. 17, after Katelyn assumed the responsibility of getting the word out to potential participants, signing up sponsors and generally informing the public about what was to take place – and, most importantly, why.

All of the proceeds from the ride were earmarked for the Boyer family, which in 2009 suffered the loss of Abigail’s father, a victim of pancreatic cancer.

Doctors have speculated that there might be a hereditary link between her father’s cancer and the cancer against which Abigail is doing battle with chemotherapy, surgery and other medical procedures.

While newspaper columns and electronic news reports have an obligation to keep the public informed about the wrongs committed by young people and others, good works like Katelyn’s oftentimes go unnoticed, primarily because those responsible for the good works seek no recognition for their effort.

Fortunately, this time a good work did not go unnoticed because Katelyn’s example has the power to inspire other young people to look for ways they too can help others in need.

To her credit, this is not the first time Katelyn has stepped forward to help others. Examples of her other efforts are carrying the groceries of the elderly at the Tyrone food bank, ringing the Salvation Army bell at Christmastime and doing volunteer work at her church and elsewhere.

Katelyn got the idea for a fundraiser from the youth pastor at her church, Grace Baptist, where Abigail also is a member. But the fundraiser suggestion she received did not seem to hold the prospect of adequately addressing the kind of financial needs facing the Boyer family.

Katelyn’s father’s interest in motorcycles and his participation in a recent ride for homeless veterans provided the seeds for what she became determined to accomplish. On Aug. 17, all of the planning came together in an event for which Katelyn and her family can be very proud – and for which the Boyer family can remain grateful.

During the ride, Katelyn’s efforts were rewarded by being allowed to ride as a passenger on the lead cycle, wearing a T-shirt carrying the word “CHAIRMAN.”

And chairman she was – as well as a great example.

Abigail’s family has had many expenses tied to her illness, and the financial challenges were exacerbated by the month of work that her mother lost while Abigail was receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Whatever financial burden was lifted from the Boyer family as a result of the Aug. 17 event can be traced to a young teen whose summer was relegated to the background while she cemented her focus on a mission she deemed much more important.

It’s unlikely that Katelyn’s name ever will be in a news report for the wrong reason.