Edna Igo believes that if her work makes a difference for at least one child, it will all have been worth it.
Edna and her husband, Emmitt, opened Igo’s Boxing and Fitness Center in Richmond in 2010. Emmitt had been a boxer and coach, and their son, Carlos, was a youth and college boxer who competed in the Olympic trials.
The Igos started the gym to give local kids something constructive to do in their free time. They teach boxing and fitness, but also help the kids set goals and require them to keep their grades up. When a kid can’t afford the gym fees, they provide scholarships. Sometimes kids come back years later as adults to visit and tell Edna and Emmitt how much the experience meant to them.
“If one child benefits from it, it was worth it. And it has been,” Edna says.
Edna’s sister, Sarah Moran, was a 1997 graduate of the New Opportunity School for Women. Edna came to NOSW in 2000, after Emmitt had been diagnosed with cancer in 1999.
“It was just really for moral support, to help me stay in the right frame of mind as far as dealing with the issues of that,” she says.
Her son was also going through some troubles at the time, and her mother had been sick. Being around other women who were experiencing similar challenges was helpful to Edna. “It was a group of us that had been through a lot,” she says.
The residential program taught her that “you don’t always have to be a yes person for everybody.” She learned that it’s important—not selfish—to take time for yourself. And she was inspired by all that the women accomplished while they were together.
After NOSW, Edna and her family learned more about cancer and met other families dealing with it, which helped prepare them for Carlos’s cancer diagnosis in 2009. Both Emmitt and Carlos survived cancer and are leading full lives today.
Edna and Emmitt are active in their Madison County community, partnering with other organizations to serve kids and families. They also help out with their grandchildren.
“We have been truly blessed, and we just want to bless others,” Edna says.