Originally published on Spectrum News 1 by Megan Marshall

Dawn Barnett has been a part of Running Rebels for nearly 30 years. Running Rebels is a community organization that mentors thousands of kids and young adults throughout the Milwaukee area.

“The work that we do in general is pass along knowledge to our youth so that they can be successful,” said Barnett, the co-executive director of Running Rebels.

Barnett has always had a passion for helping the next generation live a better life. For her, “healthy habits” is a topic that is near and dear to her heart.

In 2013, Barnett was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her family has had a long history with cancer, and she knew one day she may have it too.

“It was a nine centimeter in diameter tumor, which two weeks later I was informed that it was cancerous,” she said.

Barnett is now cancer free and said she’s incorporated healthy eating into her lifestyle to help keep cancer from returning. It’s a passion of hers that she’s passing down to the kids at Running Rebels.

“Healthy eating and living not just helps us to prevent cancer, but so many other diseases that plague our community,” Barnett said.

Recently, Running Rebels received a $30,000 grant from the Kohl’s Healthy Families program through the American Cancer Society. This grant will allow Barnett to continue her work giving kids hands-on experience with creating healthy meals and better educating them to live a healthier lifestyle.

One of her students, Jerri Dawson, has taken these lessons to heart. She said she plans to share the healthier habits she’s learning with her family and friends.

“I think it’s really awesome that Mrs. Dawn is trying to teach people a way to prevent disease and make your life healthier,” Dawson said.

Barnett’s mission is to reach as many people as she can to prevent others from going through what she did. She said giving advice and tools to live healthier is a purpose she’s proud of.

“I believe that’s why I’m here,” she said.

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