COAL TOWNSHIP - Working together toward a common goal.

That's the mission of the inaugural Coal Region Relay for Life featuring 21 teams and more than 200 participants that kicked off Friday morning and concludes at 10 a.m. today at Kemp Memorial Stadium.

Judging by the turnout of walkers, an increase in volunteer workers and money raised, the mission was accomplished.

Joe Phillips, co-chair of the relay that brought together teams from Shamokin, Mount Carmel and surrounding communities, said he was pleased with the overall success of the event that had raised $19,000 by noon Friday. The goal of the relay is $48,000.

All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society in its ongoing fight against cancer.

The theme for this year's relay is "Mining for a Cure."

Linda Reed, of Trevorton Road, was the honorary cancer survivor.

Phillips said the 21 teams represent the largest participation at the relay in many years.

"We've had a lot more help and support organizing the relay this year due to the decision to merge with Mount Carmel," Phillips said. "There was a core group of only five or six people who put together the relay in recent years, but this year, we've had many more volunteers step forward, which has allowed us to have many separate committees."

Phillips, who noted organizing the event is a year-round project, urged everyone to continue to support the local relay. "You don't have to have cancer or have a relative or friend with cancer to participate," Phillips said, "Everyone is welcome to support the fight against cancer."

In addition to walking laps and raising money, Phillips and his co-chair, Heather Fernandez, said the relay brings people from neighboring communities together to have fun while raising awareness about the deadly disease.

Phillips and Fernandez thanked everyone who participated or contributed to the relay and especially praised Shamokin Area School District for allowing the event to once again be held at the spacious, well-maintained stadium.

This year's relay featured four live bands, radio broadcasts, disc jockeys, food stands, a performance by Motivation Station, a luminaria service, an opening lap for all teams, survivors and caregivers lap and dinner, Zumba, free oral screenings by Shamokin dentist Dr. J.C. Owens, kids' games, a Ms. Relay contest, a butterfly release honoring the memory of loved ones, and closing ceremony in which participants take their final lap.

The annual Bark for Life event that raises money for the relay will be held in Mount Carmel Town Park at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 21.

Relay teams include Helen's High Rollers, Mighty Masser's, Linda's Crew, John's Building Blocks, Patsy's Petunias, Notary Shop, Eric's Brew Crew, Shamokin LCCC Trailblazers, Mountain View of Hope, Bubbie's Boobies, Johnney's Angels, Owens Dentistry, LCCC Kulpmont Nursing Class of 2015, Cancer Slayers, Veterans Against Cancer, MCA Cops for a Cure, Karen's Crew, The Curesaders, Lemongrass Spa, Northwestern Academy and Breast Friends.

Committee members include Phillips, Fernandez, Earl Reed, Lisa Phillips, Jeff Hampton, Norie Kealey, Tina Katalinas, Our Town Radio, Kathy Masser, D.J. Arbogast, Melissa Katch, Tammy Leach, Missy Dressler, Shirl Malett, Cierra Eby, Tommy Eby, Val Malett, Terry Faust and Ilyse Hampton.