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Local News

September 7, 2011

Sayres named Pancake Day Parade Marshal

CENTERVILLE — Perhaps best known for her work at the city pool and teaching swimming lessons, Nancy Sayres has spent a lifetime helping children. From working in education to participating in volunteer safety programs, Sayres has influenced the lives of thousands of kids.   

When asked about her roles, Sayres makes it clear that she doesn’t do it for the recognition; she does it because she is passionate about helping kids and keeping them safe.   

Her dedication to one of her volunteer roles, coordinator of the Pancake Day Kiddie Parade, has earned her the honor of being named the Parade Marshal for this year’s Big Parade.

Originally from Grinnell, Sayres began her teaching career in Moravia in 1972 where she taught K-12 art until 1986.   After a stint as a stay-at-home mom and doing some substitute teaching, she joined the AEA in 1994.  She retired from AEA in 2009 and began doing some remedial counseling. Along the way, Sayres has coached the swim team, worked at the YMCA, managed the city pool, taught swim lessons, educated kids about good touch/bad touch through the Appanoose Family Alliance’s Happy Bear program, coordinated the Healthy Kids Fair and organized the Kiddie Parade at Pancake Day.  This year she is the president of the Iowa Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and this fall she is hoping to return to substitute teaching.

Sayres’ dedication to children comes from her heart.  “It’s about kids getting what they need and providing a level of support that they may not be getting at home.  Some kids need another person to talk to,” says Sayres.  “I love kids.  Even the tough ones — especially the tough ones.”

Staying positive is something that has helped Sayres continue her work with kids.  It’s also something that has helped her deal with challenges in her own life including her Stage 4 ovarian cancer diagnosis in July 2010.  While enduring surgery and then chemotherapy, Sayres stayed active through treatment.  In December 2010, doctors told her there was no evidence of cancer.  This past May, she suffered a relapse and is once again undergoing treatment.    

She draws strength from her family.  Gary, her husband of 28 years, has always been supportive of everything she does, as are her children, Emily Sayres, Hillary Sayres, Bradley Van Blaricon and Erin Lawson.

Just as she has for the past 15 Pancake Days, Sayres will set up her table in front of the Methodist Church on North Main and register kids for the Kiddie Parade.  She will take down all the information, instruct kids on where to line up and send them off with a Tootsie Pop.  Many of the kids recognize her from one of her many other roles.    “I love seeing the kids and watching them grow up,” she says.   “When kids come up and give me a hug, I feel that maybe I’ve made some sort of an imprint on their lives.”

The Kiddie Parade will begin at 10 a.m. and the Big Parade will begin at 1 p.m. on Pancake Day.

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