The song based on the poem “The Human Touch” by Spencer Michael Free begins, “It’s the human touch in this world that counts.” Have you heard it? Do you know the words? To me it captures the depth of spirit present throughout the existence of Rein In Sarcoma. Spearheading the organization founded by their daughter, Karen, just months before her death from synovial sarcoma, Pete and Sue Wyckoff ensured Rein in Sarcoma has been tirelessly dedicated to people.
A little background for you. Over 50 years ago, Pete and Sue’s first date was a volunteer event. He asked her out, she accepted, and Pete picked up Sue on a moped. He handed her a flower he had accidentally run over - she pinned it on her lapel and off they went to raise money for a campus organization helping students. They have been a strong team ever since. They married at age 21. Sue was a teacher and Pete went to seminary, later becoming an ordained minister with a call as a community organizer through the Presbyterian Church. They had two amazingly intelligent children who emulated their parents drive for excellence and service.
Over the decades, the Wyckoffs have never stopped helping and advocating for the youth, the elderly, social justice, and then improving patient outcomes for rare sarcoma cancers. They put their experience and team work towards Karen’s vision for education, patient support, and better outcomes. The organization and community you know now as Rein In Sarcoma has grown exponentially under their leadership. This couple embodies our organization’s human touch. They have walked the pain, the fear, and the suffering of losing a child to sarcoma. It is just over seventeen years ago now their daughter, Karen, passed away in their arms at home, after a misdiagnosis and the wrong surgical procedures.
To cope and work through the grief, their response was advocacy and service. The goal was always to improve outcomes for other sarcoma patients and their families. Those acts of service multiplied through the years. Sue and Pete worked tirelessly advocating, writing, cooking, collaborating, connecting, listening, and supporting others in service and in love. They have complementary skills and make a great team. They tell the stories, collaborate to raise funds for improved treatments, and build teams to improve the diagnosis process and save lives.
As they transition this January, relying on others to shoulder the multifaceted workload, we want them to know how grateful we are for their dedication, talents, resources, and unwavering focus on improving the lives of others. Pete and Sue are dear leaders of a growing community who work together to realize the dream that children should go to kindergarten instead of chemo and that together we can raise awareness and save lives.
Pete and Sue, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You are loved, and we are grateful for your dedicated service to patients, survivors, families, and healthcare providers. Your work is a call to action, uniting sarcoma families in many locations to continue educating, advocating, fundraising, and supporting. Our community will continue to provide others with this tender human touch, as you have shown us how.
Best wishes from Janelle Calhoun and all of us at Rein in Sarcoma.