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Putting others before yourself: Barrett's memory honored at Volley for the Cure

Recent death of G-K supporter inspires cancer awareness

GENOA — Put others before yourself and be sure to check yourself for cancer.

Those are the things that Wayne Barrett said his wife Barb, who died Sept. 13 due to complications from breast cancer, would want people to know.

“She didn’t worry about herself," Barrett said. "She always worried about everybody else. She always put everybody else first.”

After discovering cancer originally in 2011, Barb fought the breast cancer away before it came back around a year and a half ago in the form of seven tumors. She had found a lump while examining herself, even after a double mastectomy when the cancer had first been originally discovered. It was in her bones as well and spread to her liver.

Barb Barrett fought until she lost her life earlier this month – a life that was honored Wednesday as Genoa-Kingston held their Volley for the Cure Night as part of a match against Byron.

"A lot of people didn’t know how bad she was feeling because she hid it well," Barrett said. "She didn’t want people to worry about her."

On Wednesday, Wayne sat with friends and family as daughter Elizabeth and son Emerick were called in front of the large Cogs crowd volleyball crowd and introduced before the game. The Cogs volleyball players went on to share flowers with the pair.

Those movements proved bigger than the Cogs' two-set loss to visitors Byron, 25-22, 32-30.

Bonnie Peters had helped put on the Volley for the Cure Event for about three years she said, and had come to be a friend of Barb through a relationship with Nikki Gudall, who the 2018 Volley for the Cure event honored. Gudall died that December.

“After Nikki we all came together as a family and it meant a lot to us. Helping out with them, helped me feel a lot for them," Cogs volleyball player and daughter of Bonnie, Madison Peters, said. "I really love them. I truly love those kids and that family and I would do anything for them.”

Bonnie noted that Barb participated walks and plenty of fundraising and awareness events.

“(Barb) had no choice. She had to beat it," Bonnie Peters said. "She eventually knew what was going to happen, but she had two kids. That was her strength. That was what pulled her through a lot of what she was going through.”

While typically athletic parents of G-K students usually help Bonnie Peters take the lead on gathering donations and support for Breast Cancer awareness leading up to the event, it was Cogs volleyball players who helped Peters do much of the leg work this year.

"This year I kind of thought the girls should put a name to the G-K volleyball team, so a lot of the girls went out and collected donations," she said. "They had a letter explaining what the event was for. The community has been incredible with donating and sending either money or time and helping out. The girls did a lot of work going out and getting donations.”

In the match, McPherson and Skyler Stanis posted consecutive kills late in the second set for a 22-21 Cogs lead, and the battle begin back and forth before the Tigers' hitters put the match away.

It had been Lily Mueller's play with several kills that helped the Cogs (3-14 overall, 0-3 Big Northern Conference) to rally from a 16-12 deficit.

“She plays big on gameday and in big moments," Cogs coach Keith Foster said. "She’s a big presence with her block and she has great upper body strength.”

An emphatic McPherson kill had the Cogs up 9-4 in the first set, but Byron stormed back on Abby McKinley's serve for the Tigers. The two squads battled back and forth for the set, before the Tigers established control and won the set.

“Lily (McPherson) did a great job of placing the ball against their defense," Foster said. "I feel like our kill percentage was very high today.”

Wayne Barrett was happy to note that his friends, family and their supporters had raised "countless" thousands of dollars for cancer research. Wednesday marked the chance for the Barrett's to feel the love from the community.

One of the few things that his family's collective battle with cancer has been gaining the knowledge of how much good remains in people.

He recalled going on a memorable Avon Walk in Chicago, The Walk to End Breast Cancer.

“I (saw) parents and their kids are still in their pajamas sitting on their stoops handing out water and stuff," Wayne Barrett said. "You find out there are still decent people in the world.”

Athletic Director Phil Jerbi announced that the night helped raise over $2,700 that would all go to the Barrett family.

“She’s (Barb) done so much for this community," Madison Peters said. "We all show our respect and our love for her. Our community, doing this, it means a lot to her. I know it means a lot to her.”

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