Gratitude is a beautiful thing. Properly applied, it can even help save lives. That's why sisters Mollie Stephens and Maggie Stephens have done so much to give back for everything that has been done to aid their beloved father in his battle for life.

Gratitude is a beautiful thing. Properly applied, it can even help save lives. That’s why sisters Mollie Stephens and Maggie Stephens have done so much to give back for everything that has been done to aid their beloved father in his battle for life.

Both young women, Pittsburg, will graduate in a week from Kansas State University. During their time in Manhattan, both have been involved in the K-State Relay for Life, and for the past two years Mollie Stephens has been chairman with her sister Maggie as co-chair.
The event was held April 25 in Memorial Stadium on the K-State campus.

“This year we did it from 6 p.m. to midnight,” Mollie Stephens said in a telephone interview. “That’s a nation-wide trend that we can get more attendance, and we had more this year than we’d seen ever before.”
She said there were 25 on the planning committee, around 40 survivors attending and a lot more people.

“There were a lot of students, but also a lot from the community,” Stephens said. “It was a mixed bag. We opened it up to the public and people didn’t have to register. I’d say there were about 350 total there.”
Theme was “Family Reunion,” and, as usual, that included parents Jeff and Sherri Stephens and other relatives. Their father has been walking the Relay for Life with his daughters every spring.

A leukemia survivor, he underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2010 and was able to stay at Hope Lode in Kansas City, which provides free housing to cancer patients traveling there for treatment.

The Stephens sisters began early to do what they could to give back in gratitude for the fact that they still had their father with them.

In August of  2011 Maggie Stephens used her dance and choreography background to put on “PUSH,” a dinner, show and dessert social, to raise awareness and funds for Hope Lodge and Angels Among Us, a local organization that provides aid to area cancer patients and their families. Sister Mollie was involved with many of the dance productions.

And that continued when they got to K-State and became involved with the student-run Relay for Life organization.

The 2014 event was successful, Mollie Stephens said.

“It was a six-hour event, so we wanted it to be pretty packed,” she said. “We constructed a K-State version of ‘Family Feud’ and had a watermelon toss. There was a men’s a capella group, a tap dance ensemble and an improv group.”

There were also ceremonies, including the opening ceremony, a survivors lap, caregivers lap and luminaria ceremony.

“We’re still doing tallies, but we’ve brought in around $27,500,” Stephens said. “That’s pretty good. I’ve heard that the K-State Relay for Life is the second largest philanthropy on the campus.”

However, she and her sister may not be involved in the K-State event again, at least not in a leadership basis every year, because of their upcoming graduation.

“I’m going to be getting my undergraduate degree in hotel and restaurant management, and Maggie will be getting her master’s degree in community development,” Stephens said. “I’m going to be moving to Kansas City, and Maggie will spend the summer in Pittsburg. She’s going to be part of the production staff for “Annie,” the Pittsburg Community Theatre summer musical.”

Nevertheless, the sisters know they can probably continue with their own philanthropy as well.

“There are thousands of Relays for Life across the country,” Stephens said.