The past and the present drive Peck
Kierstan Peck says that it is the memory of her father that inspired her to begin working for the American Cancer Society. She said that it is the passion she sees in others that really drives her to succeed.
She said that she really feels the bond between her and people who have also lost loved ones to the disease when they do the luminary walk during the annual Relay For Life. Normally working behind the scenes during Relay, she said that she doesn’t get much of a chance to walk in the annual event. When she does, she gets the chance to reflect on what she does and why she does it.
“I’m very passionate,” she said. “I got into this career because my dad passed away. I talk to my volunteers all the time about why they relay. Everyone has a personal connection with cancer and my dad is mine. Since I have been with the American Cancer Society for six years, it is working with my volunteers and seeing their passion that drives me.”
Senior community relations coordinator with the Midwest division of the American Cancer Society (ACS), Peck recently became a member of the society’s CEO Club for the fifth time in her six years with ACS. The honor is given to people who meet 100 percent of their fundraising goals for the year. A press release said that Peck oversaw events that brought in $380,353, which is 105 percent of her goal and $17,000 more than was collected last year. Peck oversees Relay and Daffodil Days in Washington, Lee and Des Moines counties.
Prior to getting her job with ACS, she was a volunteer for many years after losing her father, David Peck, to cancer. She remembers the hiking trips with her father. She also said that she remembers his chili that he always made.
“My dad was a character,” Peck said. “He was such a great guy. He always did things to embarrass us kids.”
While she was a freshman in college, she received a call from her mother one morning in January 2003. Her mother said that her father had been diagnosed with brain cancer.
An accountant, David Peck’s final joke to his family was when he said that he would die on tax day. He died April 15, 2003. He was 48.
It was after losing her father that she became aware of the work that was going on in the community to raise money and awareness for cancer prevention and a cure. She attended her first Relay For Life in Rochester, Minn. later that year. While in college in Sioux Falls, she began the campus’ first Relay event. She also interned with ACS before getting her job.
In working with ACS, Peck said that the people she regularly works with have their own stories of the fight against cancer and each has their own reasons for being there.
“Since working with the organization, working with all the volunteers I have in the past six years — and I’ve worked with hundreds — everyone has their unique story with cancer and their own motivation for why they give up so many hours a month to be a volunteer,” she said. “It isn’t easy but these volunteers just give of their time because they know someone who has passed away or they know someone who is fighting or they are battling themselves and they don’t want anyone else to go through that.”
She said she feels very fortunate to be working along side the people she works with who keep her coming back.
“This is my job, this is my career and I am blessed to be doing something I love and I can make a living doing,” she said.