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Jean Hayes honored for 40 years of community service

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OGDENSBURG — Jean Hayes has spent the last 40 years serving her community, and in a small ceremony Thursday evening at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, she was recognized by the Morristown Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary and the St. Lawrence County Cancer Fund.

At 78, friends said, Mrs. Hayes was still actively raising funds on behalf of the cancer fund’s annual Edward I. Moses Walk/Run for Life before her illness took a turn for the worse. Mrs. Hayes was diagnosed with cancer in October. She was too gravely ill to attend the ceremony.

The Edward I. Moses Walk/Run for Life is held every spring and raises money that is used to support local hospitals in their battle against cancer.

Warren A. Dyke, who founded the walk/run in the 1970s, said Mrs. Hayes has “been there every single year” since she began participating in the mid-1980s.

Since 2002, Mr. Dyke said, Mrs. Hayes, who lived in Ogdensburg, managed to raise at least $1,000 per year.

“She has probably raised more than $25,000” in total, Mr. Dyke said.

Mrs. Hayes’s daughter Cindy Measheaw said her mother was active in the community because “she just loved the fact that she could help people.”

Mrs. Measheaw said her mother “would raise all that money because she loved her dad so much, Michael Sullivan, and she wanted to honor him because he died from cancer.”

“What kept her going was her faith,” Mrs. Measheaw said of her mother, who was Catholic. “She would be on her knees; we’d say, ‘Mom, we’re going to bed.’ I’d wake up in the morning and she would still be on her knees. All night long she’d pray.”

And Mrs. Hayes didn’t slow down when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Mrs. Measheaw said her mother told her, “Even if I can’t walk the cancer walk, I’m still going to raise the money.”

Beyond the walk/run for life, Mrs. Hayes was an active member of the Morristown Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary.

Beginning in 1973, Mrs. Hayes participated in nearly every event, cooking food for fundraisers and donating money as often as possible.

Auxiliary Chief Sally Barse said Mrs. Hayes never missed a meeting and Heather Paro attested to her charitable spirit.

The auxiliary gave Mrs. Hayes a plaque honoring her and thanking her for her 40 years of service.

Mrs. Hayes was also a loving mother, Mrs. Measheaw said. “All of us eight kids she raised by herself.” Mrs. Measheaw said her father, Paul Hayes, a truck driver, left when she was a child.

Even after battling homelessness for a period Mrs. Measheaw said, her mother never gave up fighting for her family and her community.

“I don’t know how she did all of it, I honestly don’t. Like a miracle worker,” Mrs. Measheaw said. “I think the most important thing is that her work lives on.”

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