Latter-day Saint Life

How One LDS Man Is Fighting Cancer by Serving Refugees in Utah


Though he has undergone 60 chemotherapy treatments in the past decade, Don Ward continues to assist refugees and serve them in any way he can. 

When the LDS Church launched its "I Was a Stranger" initiative last year, Don Ward couldn't help but smile.

People were suddenly motivated and wanted to get involved. But there was a problem.

"I had people say, 'I would really love to help refugees. I wish there were some in Utah,'" Ward said. "I'd tell them there are 60,000 refugees in Utah, and they'd say, 'Are you serious?'"

The figure of 60,000 is correct, according to the Utah Refugee Coalition. The refugees primarily come from countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East and find homes in Salt Lake County.

Ward, a 75-year-old retired high school history teacher, estimated that he and others have helped more than 20,000 refugees in Salt Lake County over the past eight years.

And he's done so while battling cancer.

"I feel I have been blessed in my life … and this is a way to show appreciation for those blessings," Ward said. "Against some significant odds, I am still here. I know I still have cancer, but because I'm so busy with these things … cancer is not the focus of my life."

Lead image from Deseret News
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