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Growing up in Chartiers-Houston, Pennsylvania, Lynette Kunkle has been through a lot in her lifetime. Throughout these experiences, though, there was one thing that never changed: the importance of family.
Known as "Punky" to many, Kunkle has always shared a close bond with her siblings. Her sister gave her a nickname for life.
"When my sister was little she couldn't say 'pumpkin' correctly when she was trying to say 'cute like a pumpkin'," Kunkle said. "It ended up coming out 'punky' every time and the name just sort of stuck."
The close bond Punky shares with her family means everything to Kunkle. It doesn't matter what happens, they always stick together. It is a value that her father instilled in them.
Kunkles's father developed cancer in 2000 and needed to have chemotherapy treatments frequently. Devastated by this, Punky was inspired to start an American Cancer Society Relay for Life team to help raise awareness for those with cancer. The team has grown and her whole family participates in this event every year.
"Every year I cry at Relay for Life at least once," Kunkle said. "The whole atmosphere is just so touching."
Kunkle also joined a Relay for Life committee where she continues to raise awareness and money for those in their battle with cancer. Throughout the summers, she takes time off from her work to do fundraisers. It has all been worth it in her eyes.
"We have raised over $250,000 in the past 17 years," Kunkle said. "It's my hope that this will help find the cure for this terrible disease."
Kunkle's father passed away from a heart attack years ago. It was a somber time in her life, but motivated Punky and her family to continue volunteering for Relay for Life events, working together to help raise money and awareness. The close bond that they share is something extremely special to Kunkle.
"I can just imagine my father looking down on us and smiling with pride."