Our youth, our future: Ryan Cummins

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MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV) - Ryan Cummins began volunteering for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life when he was just six years old.

Ryan with his grandma, who passed away from cancer in 2010.

"It's a non-profit fundraiser through the American Cancer Society. A lot of people think it's a 5K or a marathon, but it's actually an over-night event," Ryan said.

"He's very organized and puts a lot of work into it; he volunteers a lot of hours," said Ryan's mom, Teresa.

When he was nine, he became a co-captain of his church's team. By 12, Ryan became the lead captain and has been serving in that role ever since.

"As we go throughout the year, we do fundraisers, we do yard sales, we do bus trips," Ryan explained.

"He has been our [county's] top fundraiser for the past two years, raising over a thousand dollars on his own," said Kelly Mascola, the event lead for Relay for Life of Monongalia County.

Now 14, Ryan revealed that his passion for Relay for Life began as a way to memorialize his grandmother, who passed away from cancer in 2010.

"She was very special to me and was just always there for me," Ryan said.

Ryan said overall, his experience has been great and that being able to help others is what makes it all worth it.

"It's been really good, especially getting to be a team captain, working more behind the scenes and getting to organize things," said Ryan.

He continued, "It just gives you a warm feeling inside knowing that you are helping people."

"Ryan, who started so young and has this passion in him already, I feel like that's just gonna grow," Mascola said.

In addition to his work with Relay for Life, Ryan helps out with Bark for Life, a cancer awareness event that let's people bring their dogs.

Ryan's hard work doesn't end with volunteering. He also plays golf and baseball, and plays in the marching band at his school.

Although Ryan's grandmother isn't here to see his accomplishments, Ryan and his family say she would be proud of the work he's done in her honor.

"I know his grandma would be very proud of him," Teresa said. "She struggled with cancer but she also liked helping people."

Ryan added, "She worked in our church and loved to outreach with people, so I think she'd definitely be proud of what I'm doing."

If you're interested in attending Relay for Life in your town, check out the related link.