Airman, wife honored for work bringing Relay for Life to U.K.
Stars and Stripes June 13, 2007
RAF MILDENHALL — Tech. Sgt. Chris Kaelin and his wife, Patricia, believe in charity. They also believe in fate.
Those two beliefs converged recently when the American couple was recognized by a British cancer research organization.
Last week the RAF Molesworth computer programmer and his wife were presented the Flame of Hope award for their role in helping establish the Relay for Life program in the United Kingdom.
“We’ve been humbled by the award and by the fact that we’re having such a great impact on others,” the 39-year-old Owensboro, Ky., native said a day after he was recognized in a central London ceremony.
Kaelin and his wife moved to England three years ago after several years in Ohio, where they were active in the Buckeye State’s Relay for Life program.
They reached out to the Cancer Research U.K. organization to learn how they could get involved in England. They discovered that the group was looking to recruit Americans to help institute the Relay for Life program in England.
“We really thought it was fate and got excited to get more involved,” Kaelin said.
Relay for Life is an event in which volunteers gather at running tracks, sports fields and parks to take turns walking or running laps, according to the organization’s Web site. Each event lasts 12 to 24 hours, and aims to raise money to fight cancer through sponsorships and donations.
The program, according to Annette Breeden, head of volunteering for the organization, relies on people such as the Kaelins to “enable our scientists and doctors to carry out their vital work.”
“Without people like them the progress we are making would simply not be possible,” Breeden said in a statement. The Kaelins, she added, have ensured that Cancer Research U.K. has a strong presence within the U.S. and U.K. communities on the air base.
Patricia Kaelin, whose father was diagnosed with prostate cancer but has been full recovered since 2004, is equally proud of their contributions, she said.
“We were all the way here in England, and I was not able to be there to support him, but I knew what we were doing here with the charity would help to fight cancer,” the 38-year-old Danville, Ky., native said. “What we do is only a small part, and every little bit helps in the process.”
The Kaelins are currently busy organizing the next Relay for Life, which is slated for Aug. 4 and 5. They are hoping to top last year’s total of 17,500 pounds (about $35,000).
“We’d like to hit 25,000 pounds,” she said. “If we do, it’s a big-time celebration with everyone who helped us out.”
Chris Kaelin said people don’t need to be in great shape to participate, but only need a will to help combat one of the world’s least-discriminating diseases.
“People can walk, run, rollerblade and even sit on the track, as we had a pregnant woman do last year,” he said.
“It’s not about the exercise, but about getting out to raise money.”
To get involved contact the Kaelins at 01480 412899 or 07796 261058.