When her miles added up, the community came together


LUSK - “It’s a small world” always seems particularly applicable to Wyoming and small towns, and this was never more apparent than at the benefit for Barb Rapp on May 5. That night, over 300 gathered from all across the state, and even across the region to show their support for Barb Rapp. A long-time fixture in Niobrara county, Barb raised her family in Lusk and has been a staunch supporter of Tiger athletics and extracurricular activities as a bus driver, chaperone and photographer. Decades of NCHS and middle school athletes have their athletic and activity careers documented thanks to Barb. She has driven hundreds of thousands of miles in her career getting students and coaches safely to their events and home again.

Rapp is a behind the scenes kind of person, always willing to lend a hand and help get things done. She has worked summers on grounds crews for the Town of Lusk being one of the workers that keeps the parks, cemetery and roadways looking neat and clean. She is independent and a hard worker that finds it more important that a job get done than who gets the credit for it.

Being that kind fo person, it was difficult for Rapp to let people know that she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and would start treatment in the spring of 2023. When wrestling coaches Justen Miller and JD Wasserburger discovered Barb’s diagnosis they decided that the community needed to come together and host a benefit for her. JD enlisted the help of Verlene Matney and Shaylee Love also stepped up to help out. Once word got out donations came pouring in from all over the region. Various schools, athletic organizations, businesses and individuals from Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska donated to help make the event a success. The Niobrara cattle women helped prepare and serve the taco bar meal.

When the evening closed out over $50,000 had been raised to help support Barb in her fight. The Niobrara Track and Field Team raised $850 just from selling cancer support bracelets, donating all of those funds to Rapp. Many of the live auction items brought thousands of dollars, the value being not in the item itself, but in the person receiving the funds.

Rapp was still overwhelmed over a week later when asked about the event. She knows she still has a long road ahead but has no doubt that an entire community, one that stretches across state borders and down every road she has driven, standing behind her.