West Allis - Jim Mejchar of West Allis was recently honored as the 2012 winner of the Midwest Relay for Life Hero of Hope Award.
Mejchar has been helping the Relay for Life toward higher and higher goals for more than 10 years. This year's West Allis joint Relay for Life with New Berlin at Nathan Hale High School raised more than $56,000.
Relay for Life, which began in 1985, is a fundraiser in which teams walk all night in relay fashion. Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.
Mejchar himself has survived two cancer battles. Those experiences made the retired West Allis police officer decide that he wanted to do whatever he could to help others.
"I made up my mind that I would never waste another moment and give back," Mejchar said.
And he has been true to his pledge. Mejchar has helped recruit and mentor teams and has done many other tasks to make the relay successful. His efforts made him the top Hero of Hope from among four states - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota - in the Midwest division.
The cancer research is working, Mejchar said. When he was receiving treatments at St. Luke's Medical Center, his doctor told him that the treatments here are the finest in the world, and that's due in part because of Relay for Life supporting cancer research, he said.
"They're working their hearts out" to find a cure, he said.
Mejchar said the rewards are worth all the effort he puts in. While he'll "never be a rich man," he said, knowing he has helped people is an emotionally enriching experience.
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