“The first time I walked into a Gilda’s Club was after my friend died,” remembers Angie Rieves. It was 2007, and one of her best friends, Jessica, had recently passed away from cancer at 25 years old.

Angie went to GIlda’s Club Milwaukee looking for support, and later began volunteering. When she moved back to Madison, she wanted to stay involved. She became both a swimmer and kayaker for Gills for Gilda’s, a long-running community fundraiser for Gilda’s Club.

Becoming an Iron Man athlete

But Angie didn’t stop there. She went on to join Club Red, Gilda’s Associate Board that she now Chairs. She is also a member of the Gilda’s Board of Directors, has volunteered at Gilda’s fundraising events, cooked Family Night dinners, helped with the Community Art Show, served ice cream at member socials, and so much more.

An endurance athlete, Angie supported Gilda’s Club as she achieved one of her dreams in 2021: Completing the Iron Man triathlon. “My passion for endurance sports and for serving Gilda’s Club stem from the same thing – losing one of my best friend’s to cancer at the age of 25,” she explains. It was her friend Jessica who inspired her to begin running. Angie used the Iron Man as a fundraiser for Gilda’s Club, raising thousands of dollars to support families touched by cancer.

“You can come as you are”

Like many Gilda’s volunteers, Angie has been personally touched by cancer in many ways. In addition to losing her friend at such a young age, Angie speaks of her grandparents, uncle and several friend’s cancer journeys.

One of her friends has an eight-year-old son who has been going through cancer treatment for the past two years and she has another friend fighting cancer in their 30’s. “Cancer does not discriminate based on your age or your demographics,” Angie explains.

She continues, “Gilda’s Club is an organization that knows that people are not defined by a diagnosis and there is life beyond a hospital. You can come as you are and there will be a place for you.”

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