Line Chef, Metz &Associates
The J.M. Smucker Co.
Hometown: New Philadelphia, Ohio
Education: Graduated from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Pittsburgh
Married to Jason, a teacher
Angela Calkins, line chef at The J.M. Smucker Co. in Orrville, Ohio, started walking in Relay for Life walks with her mom’s company in 2005. But when her brother-in-law was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007, the walks took on much more significance, so Calkins and her sister decided to start their own team. More than $30,000 later, her team continues to fight cancer one step at a time.
“My mom works for a pretty big company, so we’d always participate in the Relay For Life walks, but we never had our own team. It wasn’t until my brother-in-law got diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago that we really got involved. He had a tumor in the left side of his brain, but they were able to remove it. He had a year of chemo and radiation and he’s doing really well now. So we’d always gone and walked, but it was just kind of like we were just there—you really don’t realize how many people are affected by cancer and need help until you really get into it and have your own team. After he was diagnosed, we decided to form a team.
In Ohio, you can pretty much find a Relay For Life walk every weekend through the month of June in different counties. At our county chapter, you can have a corporate team or a family team. You go to a meeting at the beginning of the year and you set a team goal. But then it’s up to you as a team to decide how you want to raise your money. You kind of have to go it alone and be dedicated. It’s a lot of work, a lot of weekends and a lot of nights.
So we’ve done a little of everything to raise money. We did a cut-a-thon, where a beauty shop in town gave us the store for the day and everybody that came in and got a haircut acted as a donation. We raised about $5,000 from that. One of our most successful fundraisers was a pizza sale, which was my idea since I come from a food point of view. My thought was, ‘what could we make in a quantity that we could send out?’ I think we sold 400 pizzas the first time we did it. We bought bulk pizza dough and cheese from a local business out in Amish country and we got a six-foot trailer for all the fixings. I had somebody in charge of sauce, someone in charge of cheese, someone in charge of pepperoni, peppers, onions and someone wrapping them, putting them in boxes. We had an assembly line going. My team is only 15 people, so that’s a lot of pizzas to make. We did a pre-pizza sale. We thought maybe we’d pre-sell a couple hundred. The first number was 366. Then another 190 came in. I don’t think my team members knew how much cheese and sauce were coming. When we were done, we delivered all the pizzas.
My sister and I are co-captains and some of these teams we’re going against have hundreds of members. The first year we had our team we raised $17,000 in seven months, which was the most money anyone has ever raised in our county. The corporate Relay For Life lady came down and said no one had ever done this their first year out of the gate. The next year we raised $14,000. Last year we raised $6,000, so in three years we’ve raised more than $30,000. You have to want it. We raised that much and there are only 15 of us. Imagine what these big companies could do if they really rallied behind it.
I think it’s really important because Relay just doesn’t give money to research—a lot of the money stays local. They do a survivor lap where anyone that has cancer or has beaten cancer is allowed to walk the first lap of the track. It’s amazing to see how many people have been affected. It makes you ask, ‘when are we going to wake up and realize this is an epidemic?’ To see my brother-in-law walking the track and knowing what he’s been through and the fact that he’s getting better, you just realize that everyone should be doing this.”