WPX employee Donnie Mitchell keeps hitting it out of the park with his fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
Donnie, 35, is a cancer survivor, who works in WPX’s Parachute, Colo., office in the Piceance Basin as an environmental specialist.
Last year, Donnie was the honorary chairman for Grand Junction’s Relay for Life. His goal was ambitious -- he raised more than $50,000 for the event.
And for the 2013 Relay for Life on June 14-15, he's raising another $34,000, along with the help of his fellow WPX team mates. Here's how to find out more about the event.
“I have the ability to raise funds because I work with a bunch of phenomenal people who are willing to donate to a great cause,” Donnie says.
Donations to Relay for Life help the ACS provide college scholarships, research programs, a place to stay for cancer patients and their families when out of town, and many more services.
"It's important for me to keep helping the ACS because there are so many different types of cancer, and the only thing that's going to end it is to find a cure," he says. "ACS is such a big supporter of research, so it's crucial to raise as much money as we can."
For Relay for Life, groups come together in communities across the country to raise money, then participate in a two-day track event to show support for cancer patients and survivors.
Donnie, a husband and father of two, was diagnosed with stage one testicular cancer in late 2009 after a doctor’s exam following a hunting injury he sustained.
“I noticed a lump and went in for a checkup. We did an ultrasound, found that the lump was cancerous, and I had surgery right away," he says.
"I thought, ‘I’m not going to let this beat me.’ I’ve always been a positive person and a happy-go-lucky type of a guy, anyway.”
After surgery to remove the cancer, Donnie had about 20 radiation treatments. But in his upbeat manner, he says they were “nothing compared to a lot of other people’s treatments.”
As he beat cancer, Donnie slowly settled back into his normal routine of working and spending time with his family.
Then he met 8-year-old Samantha. She, too, was a local cancer survivor, who was walking door to door in his neighborhood, collecting money for Relay for Life.
“Seeing her out there – this little tiny girl – doing everything she could to raise money to fight cancer, and here I am – this grown man – doing nothing,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘I can do that.’”
After that meeting, Donnie took his passion to the pavement.
“We walked all night long – I walked 35 miles, which was 105 laps on the track.”
As one of his responsibilities as last year's honorary chair, Donnie threw out the first pitch at the grand reopening of Grand Junction’s Sam Suplizio Field for a Colorado Mesa baseball game.
“It was a huge day for me. I was the first person to throw a pitch on the field since the grand reopening,” he says.
“It was cool for me, because I played high school baseball there, and not only did I get to throw out that pitch, but I got to be there as part of Relay for Life.”
Donnie says the whole experience – from the day he discovered he had cancer, to participating during these last few years in Relay for Life – has humbled him tremendously.
“You have to be grateful for what you have. Never take anything for granted,” he says. “Live life to the fullest. I know it’s kind of cliché, but that’s really a motto to go by.”
Donnie’s success in fundraising and becoming a leader at WPX and in the community comes as no surprise to environmental manager Rick Matar, who has supervised Donnie for four years.
“He invigorates a group and makes a project fun,” Rick says. “And first and foremost, he’s a family man, and that’s something he’s well respected for.”