Pat Flynn, known fondly as "The Mother of Relay For Life," died Saturday night (July 7) from kidney disease. She was 80 years old.
The Tacoma, WA, resident had stage four chronic kidney disease, according to her son, Mark Flynn, and had been on kidney dialysis for four years. During an interview several days before her death, Mark said, "She has limited time, but she is still one of the most joyous and happy people you'll ever meet, even when she is in pain."
Word of Pat's failing condition had spread across the country and around the world, and she had received a steady stream of phone calls from well-wishers from across the U.S. and as far away as South Africa and Australia.
Below is a statement American Cancer Society CEO Gary Reedy issued Saturday night:
"Today, the American Cancer Society and the cancer world lost a true hero, Pat Flynn, a volunteer who worked tirelessly to change the face of cancer forever. Her life’s legacy includes three children, 15 grandchildren, and a cancer-fighting footprint of over 2,500 fundraising events in 30 countries, with 1.3 million participants.
"Pat is known to us all as the “Mother of Relay For Life.” She helped turn an idea into a movement that reached countless communities, raising over $6 billion to fight cancer and save lives since the inception of this grassroots concept in 1985. For more than three decades she was a leader and driving force behind the Relay For Life movement, which grew into the world’s largest and most impactful fundraising event to lead the fight against cancer. Her enormous efforts helped change lives forever, and empowered communities around the world to have hope.
"Our thoughts, hearts, and prayers are with her family and friends. We hope there will be peace in knowing that her legacy has made a tremendous impact on so many throughout the world. We will miss Pat dearly, but she will never be forgotten, and she can be best remembered in her own words:
"'As a mother, you want to see your children grow and have an impact on the world around them. As the ‘Mother of Relay,’ I am thrilled to see the energy and spirit of Relayers continue to grow around the world. They have taken the light of Relay For Life from us here in the United States, and are truly united with us in creating a world without cancer."'
Memorial donations may be made through patflynn.org, Pat's 2018 Relay fundraising page, until the 2019 Relay For Life of Tacoma site goes live next week.