Despite diagnosis, founder of REACH stays positive

Published: Oct. 2, 2020 at 8:38 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Even when the leaves begin to change, there’s no bad time to paddle a kayak or fish for minnows and salamanders.

The water at a loved property in Fincastle is too cold to swim in, but just right, to spend the morning around. That’s where you can find Dayton with his kids, and grand kids.

“So it’s now all about quality of life and coming out here and spending time with my family," said 65-year-old, Tim Dayton. He also answers to Grandpop.

Dayton is a proclaimed workaholic, but for him, there’s no bad time at all, especially when time is short.

“The thing about pancreatic is it doesn’t show up until it’s so progressed, there’s very little you can do. So I didn’t find out until I was already stage 4," said Dayton.

The cancer diagnosis came in April, just two short months after he started losing weight, and couldn’t eat.

Since that time he’s had surgery, and gone through chemo. The next type of chemo he would have to go through only has a ten percent success rate. So for now, he’s just taking things one day at a time.

It’s a hard feat for someone who wears a lot of different hats.

He leads First Christian Church, and ten years ago, he founded REACH. He’s the executive director of the non-profit.

REACH, or Real Experiences Affecting Change, began as a summer camp, with a mission to restore hope through community service.

“You know just knowing that it’s going to work because it’s supposed to and in that time, in that ten years, I’m not sure even how many people we brought into town at this point, but we’ve calculated just under 200,000 hours of service from out of town that’s come into Roanoke," said Dayton.

It’s evolved since then, but the reason for the organization has remained the same.

“Well this is fun for me, and I should not just do it because I’m helping people, but I should do it because I like this!”

Dayton is still having fun.

He hopes that fun continues, long past the time he’s here to see it. And when that time comes, he hopes REACH carries on.

“I could sit around and claim like everyone else, COVID is terrible and life is horrible, or I could do the same thing about cancer or just about growing older, but I’m just not programmed that way," said Dayton.

He’s programmed to reach as many people as he possibly can.

For as long as he possibly can.

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