I have known the Roeder family since high school. As a member of FFA, (yes, I was a city girl in FFA!) I spent several hours out on their grandfather’s farm over the years as part of our chapter’s general livestock judging team, preparing for contests and judging in the annual competition that the Roeder family hosted. The farm life is hard work and you would always see the boys running around and helping out. We lived in town, so it was always interesting to me that they all lived so close to one another. I mean, my closest set of grandparents weren’t across the road, they were 45 minutes away. Even today, the Roeder clan is all in close proximity. In addition to meeting them through FFA, I was a wrestling cheerleader and have either been directly involved or have followed the team in some way since. The Roeders have all been very involved with wrestling as well. We’re from a small town and we run in small circles. You would be hard pressed to not know of this family!
Mike was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma a year and a half ago. After his diagnosis, the Stewartville Wrestling Boosters hosted a benefit for him. I was more than happy to be able to donate a session and attend benefit with my family. The place was completely packed! It was wonderful seeing all the people band together to support him and his family. That’s one of the things I love most about living in a small town. By God’s grace, his family ended up with the session and it was truly my honor to be able to photograph them! We did the session at their home. They have just a beautiful piece of land, absolutely perfect for the session!
On the day of their session, I was a little nervous to see it raining, but God smiled down on us and things cleared off just in time and the sun even made an appearance 🙂
It was wonderful seeing how they all care so much for one another. The boys would banter back and forth or tease one other and there were lots of smiles! Mike was feeling pretty good that day and seemed to enjoy riding around their property on the gator with the boys, holding Kathy’s hand and watching his grandchildren run around. Witnessing Mike and Kathy’s love story is what touched me the most. I am so grateful to the families, like the Roeders, that let me into their homes and lives. Photographing and creating artwork for them that they will look back on and hopefully love forever.
Mike lost his battle with this terrible illness on Monday. My heart goes out to their family. I pray that God gives them strength to get through this difficult time and fills them with the wonderful memories of their life with him. I wish there was more I could do or give. Please keep them in your prayers as well.