YMCA of Central Ohio

In Memory: Harriet Saunders, Survivor-Friend-Mentor-Family


After 30 years of service as a Home Economics teacher at Park Street Middle School, Harriet Saunders and her husband, Darrell joined the Vaughn E. Hairston YMCA. 
Harriet used the Wellness Center daily and she and her husband formed many lasting relationships.  


In 2014, Harriet was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and started chemotherapy treatment.  With a grim prognosis of less than 6 months to live, Harriet set out to beat the odds as she always had, with fierce determination, a positive attitude and her room-lighting smile!


Recently, Harriet learned about the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program in her yoga class and immediately signed up for the 12 week cancer survivor program. Over the 12 week program, Harriet and the other 5 survivors participated in a variety of physical, mental and emotional activities. Led by her coaches, Alex and Shelley, Harriet was able to improve her strength, endurance, balance and flexibility while developing supportive friendships along the way. On Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 the Vaughn 2016 LIVESTRONG class graduated!  Harriet was thrilled to have completed the program and especially proud of her diploma. 

One week later, on Wednesday, October 19, 2016, Harriet passed away.  Her husband, Darrell, said how much she looked forward to the twice weekly LIVESTRONG classes.  The group shared stories, laughter, tears, recipes, but most importantly they shared their feelings and experiences living with cancer. They supported, encouraged and celebrated one another and were an inspiration to all who met them.


The staff at the Vaughn YMCA feel very grateful and privileged to have known Harriet and are blessed to have had her as part of our LIVESTRONG family.


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