ShareThis Page

Cancer awareness crucial cause for Penn Hills groups

| Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:10 p.m.
Submitted photo
Above, members of the Penn Hills Lady Indians varsity soccer team, sitting in the shape of a pink ribbon following the 2013 'Pink Game,' which over the last four years has raised more than $6,500 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Both Cindy Spieler and Lois Gess of Penn Hills are familiar with the toll cancer can take on a family.

Spieler's father died in 1984 after being diagnosed; Gess' mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But through tragedy, both have developed a passion for helping those affected by the disease.

Spieler is the top fundraiser for the Pittsburgh East Relay for Life, which will take place July 12 at Yuhas-McGinley Stadium.

She and her husband Robert have raised more than $5,500 between them, and her team, The Players, has raised more than $6,500.

The Spielers took over The Players from their daughter Susan, who formed the team in memory of her former Penn Hills High School Principal Blaine Curran, who died of cancer in 2007 on the same date this year's Relay will take place.

“We got involved supporting her team of classmates, and when she went to college, my husband and I took over the team,” Spieler said.

Gess is a team parent for the Penn Hills Lady Indians soccer squad, which has organized a “Pink Game” the past four years in the fall to benefit Susan G. Komen For the Cure.

The games have steadily pulled in more money each year, from $1,055 in 2010 to $2,643 in 2013.

Overall, the games have generated more than $6,500 for cancer research.

“For me, it's a really good feeling,” Gess said.

“A few years prior to this, I had a handful of friends, including my mom, diagnosed with breast cancer. So when the opportunity came, it seemed like a great thing to do.”

In addition to proceeds from Pink Game T-shirt sales and concessions, a host of local residents, organizations and businesses stepped up in 2013 to donate or provide items for a Chinese auction. Schools throughout the Penn Hills School District solicited donations for dress-down days, local businesses donated gift cards and services, the Penn Hills Soccer Association helped sell Pink-Game T-shirts and more.

In addition, each year organizers added more educational elements during the week of the Pink Game: one year the team passed out cancer-awareness fliers; they hosted a speaker who discussed cancer awareness; and, in 2013, they held an open assembly for students.

“The girls worked really hard on this, and it was wonderful to see the community get excited about the Pink Game and support it,” Gess said.

Spieler said she and her husband are equally passionate about fighting the disease.

“It's unfortunately in the family, so we just try and bring awareness that there is help out there from the American Cancer Association, and try to get other people involved,” she said.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.