First Ever Coal Region Relay For Life

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

COAL TOWNSHIP -- Over the next few weeks, people all over our area are participating in Relay for Life, the 24-hour event to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

After low turnouts in years past, several communities in our area combined to form one big relay.

Step by step, people outside Shamokin Area High School raised money to help find a cure for cancer.

Relay for Life events are taking place all over our area, but what makes this one near Shamokin special is this is the first year for it. Organizers say over the past few years, involvement in both the Shamokin and Mount Carmel relays had been dwindling, so this year they decided to combine forces.

"We finally decided let's get together and double our efforts into one event. it just made it a lot easier," said event co-chair Joe Phillips.

Out of that came the Coal Region Relay for Life, a team effort between several communities to fight cancer. This year's theme is "Mining for a Cure."

"Scientists can't do it for nothing. They have to be paid. Someday there will be a cure for it. Someday," said Catherine Reed of Coal Township.

Reed has a special reason to participate. Her son Joseph died of cancer.

"He was battling it for nine years. But he lost the battle last year."

A dentist from Shamokin is doing oral cancer screenings at Relay for Life. It's free and it only takes about three minutes.

According to the American Cancer Society, 37,000 people will develop some form of oral cancer this year. Luckily my screening came back negative, but not everyone is so lucky.

Millions of people die of cancer each year, including Harold Malett's wife Patsy.

"We want to try to beat cancer so no one else has to go what she went through. I mean, the last couple of months she really suffered," Malett said.

Organizers say they hope to build the Coal Region Relay for Life and make it bigger each year. The event lasts until Saturday at 10 a.m.