Family pushes sunscreen in memory of daughter

By NICOLE HENNESSY

AVON/AVON LAKE – Lori Ann Reigert was 40 when she passed away Easter Sunday, 2016, after a brief struggle with melanoma skin cancer.  She was diagnosed Christmas Day 2015.

Next season, swimmers at Avon and Avon Lake’s pools, as well as city employees who work outside all day in Avon Lake, will have access to free sunscreen dispensers courtesy of Reigerts family – and Lori’s last wishes.

Almost immediately following Reigert’s death, her dad, John Reigert and stepmother Eileen Reigert, who lived in Avon Lake for more than 20 years, set up the LAR (Lori AnnReigert) Skin Cancer Awareness Foundation, per their daughter’s wishes. They’ve spent the past seven months getting sunscreen and dispensers to as many people as possible – hopefully providing a shield for others from the risk of melanoma. Reigert loved outdoor activities that exposed her to the sun – in photos, she is seen zip lining, boating, running, skiing, traveling, swimming, sky diving, hiking, biking and fishing.

John Reigert said after a scare the year before she was diagnosed, Lori Reigert was extremely careful and aware of the dangers the sun podrf. Unfortunately, her melanoma developed internally and was never detected.

“It’s really too late at that point to even have some years ahead of you,” he said. “You’re lucky to have months, like she did.”

Besides handing out sunscreen, the Reigert’s want to raise awareness and educate the public and kids on the importance of proper sun protection throughout life.

“(Skin cancer) can start when you’re young from overexposure and be latent for years,” John Reigert said. He hopes the dispensers and the hundreds of travel-sized sunscreen bottles they hand out at events can both protect people and serve as a tool to remind families how important it is to be proactive.

Additionally, Eileen Reigert encourages people to always wear glasses, hats and sunscreen when outside. “Get your exams done,” she added, stressing an increased focus on dermatologist care.

New to the nonprofit world, the Reigert’s are navigating how to best solicit donations. For now, they’re funding most of the foundation, with some private donations from friends and community members. They’re also a little protective of their mission — and of their daughter. Everything still feels so new.

They gathered at Avon Lake’s Ellen Trivanovich Aquatic Center last week to unveil the dispensers on an unusually sunny day. The type of day people might forget to protect themselves, so far into what should feel like the beginning of fall. The couple was joined by Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen and Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka, as well as Lorri Bruce representing the city’s parks and recreation department.

Jensen said, all summer kids are running around having fun, but “they don’t realize they don’t get a second chance if this cancer takes over.”

He added that what’s nice about these dispensers is that a parent who runs out of or forgets to pack sunscreen won’t have to make the choice between heading home or allowing their child to swim without protection.

“Ironically we’re standing on the lawn of Avon Lake city pool on a beautiful summer day,” Zilka acknowledged.

“‘But we all know the effects and the potential dangers of sunlight.”

To the Reigerts, Zilka added, “We thank you very much for your efforts.”

For more information on the LAR Foundation or to donate, visit www.larskincancerawarenessfoundation.org.

 


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