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Ford City, Rosebud Mining near top in nation in Relay fundraising

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 12:41 a.m.
Louis B.Ruediger | Leader Times
Relay for Life Chairman Bill Davis and his wife, Marsha, are pictured with a banner hanging at the Armstrong County Courthouse. Friday May 16, 2014.

Relay for Life of Ford City has received recognition as the 16th largest fundraiser among 5,500 groups taking part in the drive to fund cancer research last year.

Ford City's $480,000 fundraising effort was bolstered by Kittanning's Rosebud Mining company's team contribution of $295,747, which made it the second-ranked fundraising squad in the nation. As great of a showing as that was, it was a drop for the Rosebud Miners team that had been the top individual fundraiser in the country for eight years.

Miners Captain Wendy Powell said her team was edged out by an Alabama company that topped her team's effort by $5,000.

“This year, we're pushing to get back on top,” Powell said.

Powell said the company begins fundraising in March by raffling off several prizes to its employees, including an extra week of vacation. It encourages employees to match whatever they collect for Relay for Life.

Since joining Relay for Life in 2003, Rosebud Mining raised more than $2 million for the American Cancer Society, Powell said.

Raising money for the American Cancer Society, sponsors of Relay for Life, became personal for Powell and her family when they lost their 15-year-old son, Brandon, to bone cancer in 1997.

She captains the Rosebud Miners, as well as a smaller team with her family, who stay the duration of the 24-hour Relay for Life of Ford City.

“It's something near and dear to our hearts,” Powell said. “For me, this is as personal as it gets. I'm hoping that every dollar raised could be the one that funds the cure.”

Ford City Relay Chairman Bill Davis said the community dedicates itself to fighting cancer all year, and the event has become a way of life for many people in the borough. About 2,000 people come to Relay for Life of Ford City annually, and about 300 of them are cancer survivors.

“Most people think relay is just a 24-hour event, but it's a lot more,” Davis said. “After the event, we rest for a couple days and then we're right back at it getting ready for another round.”

Throughout the year, Davis said volunteers host bake sales, sell candy bars and hold a variety of fundraising events. They are constantly looking for corporate and private sponsorships. Davis said he hopes to bring in $700,000 this year but admits he would be happy if the group tops last year's total by any amount.

“It really pulls the whole area together,” Davis said. “I think the thing that drives us is that we just want to find a cure. With new technology and research, our chances are better than ever.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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