Rachel Rauhut is the type of person who jumps into new things with both feet. So when her father Ron Rauhut found Threads of Life, Rachel wasted no time getting involved. Both Rachel and Ron, and all their family, were grieving the death of Rachel’s aunt Marlene who was killed while working for a highway maintenance crew.
In May of 2010 Rachel participated in her first Steps for Life walk in Edmonton. That fall she attended the Western Canada Family Forum in Calgary – and she has only missed one family forum since then.
She was drawn to the Threads of Life Speakers Bureau as a way to honour her aunt’s memory. “She was a big part of our family,” Rachel says. “I’m hoping that people that do hear the story pay attention, and do something about it.”
Although she had some experience in public speaking through 4-H and school, Rachel isn’t someone who wants to be the centre of attention. Still, since taking her speaker’s training in 2012, she has been a mainstay of the Speakers Bureau in western Canada, completing two presentations in 2012, four in 2013 and three in the first half of 2014. She also served as spokesperson for the brand-new Steps for Life walk in Lloydminster this year, and appreciated the chance to communicate her message not just to the walkers, but to the mayor and safety professionals who attended.
Rachel is a pipe-line worker in the Alberta oilfield, and her employer, Newforce Energy Services, has been very understanding about allowing her to schedule her shifts around her public speaking appointments. Her plan is to eventually move into heavy equipment operating.
While her schedule doesn’t allow a lot of down-time, Rachel recently tried out a colour run in Edmonton – a 5-km run in which runners are blasted with “colour bombs” of dyed cornstarch, a different colour for each section of the race. Rachel enjoyed it so much, she’s planning to do another. The main attraction for Rachel is that both runs are fundraisers for children’s charities.
Rachel continues to refine and strengthen her presentation. Her story is hard-hitting, but “I have to put in that harsh reality,” she says. “This isn’t what happens in movies; this is what happens in real life.” Her message to audiences is to “take a step back” to think about safety, and stop or refuse a task if it is unsafe. Her family still copes with grief over her aunt’s death, but Rachel hopes that telling Marlene’s story can help some other family avoid the same pain.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of our free quarterly newsletter, Threads. For more personal stories, news, and information from Threads of Life and our family members, subscribe here.
Her background is in journalism, public relations and health and safety.