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Why we Relay for Life

Posted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 10:59 am

Meet the People’s Community Bank Team


Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series about the Westmoreland County Relay for Life teams.


Story by Amanda Ault, Associate Editor

Photos provided by Joyce Coates, People’s Community Bank Team Captain

The Westmoreland County Relay for Life is scheduled to take place May 19 atWashington & LeeHigh School. Although Relay for Life is a well-known event that takes place all over the country, it is the culminating event of months of preparation and volunteer effort. There are currently 16 Relay teams in Westmoreland and they will spend the next three months fund-raising for the American Cancer Society.

The People’s Community Bank team, captained by Joyce Coates, has been participating in Relay for Life for 16 years. The 2012 Relay will mark the team’s fifth year participating in Westmoreland’s Relay. They participated inEssexCounty’s Relay for Life prior to that.

People's Community Bank at the 2010 Relay for Life

“We have two cancer survivors on our team,” Coates said. “For me, I do it because every year that I’ve been participating, I’ve known someone who has been diagnosed with cancer or who has lost the battle with cancer.”

Both of her parents, Betty and Pete Coates, are cancer survivors.

“Even though they aren’t officially on the bank’s team, they help out as much as they are able,” Coates said. “My mom, in particular, is a real driving force behind a lot of our dinner fund-raisers.”

The bank’s team is a big contributor to the total amount of moneyWestmorelandCountyis able to give to the American Cancer Society. Coates said the bank’s tellers are constantly doing raffles and coming up with other ideas to raise money. When the Easter bunny comes to visit the bank each year, there is also a bake sale and all the proceeds go to Relay for Life. The Easter bunny will be in town on April 6.

Coates’ Relay team members are just as dedicated as she is to raise money for cancer research.

Sharia Churchill’s brother was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, which effects the upper part of the throat behind the nasal passage. He did not survive his battle, Churchill said. He died on his 21st birthday. She was diagnosed in 2010 with breast cancer and has celebrated one year of being cancer free.

“Relay has helped me, as well as my team and it is for a great cause,” Churchill said. “Hopefully one day, through the grace of God, we will find a cure.”

Every team member has a similar story. Gretchen Gable is a nine-year breast cancer survivor. Kim Self, Diane Krieger, Bonnie Self, Christina Abbott, Beverly Branner and Dee Tate have all had close family members and friends who battled cancer.

It is for those people that the team works tirelessly to raise money for cancer research.

To meet some of the People’s Community Bank team members, visit us at www.westmorelandnews.net

NOTE: The full-length video can be viewed on our Facebook page.