poag's posse

ATTLEBORO — A local couple is pitching in to raise money for cancer in spite of their own battle with the dreaded disease.

Ed Mendes, 57, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in late May, according to his wife, Mary Jane Mendes.

“Since then, I have thrown myself into fundraising mode, not for us, but for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network,” she said. “We’ve sold wristbands, drink coozies, window decals, baseball hats and winter hats. In addition to ‘Mendes Swag,’ as we like to call it all, we’ve held fundraisers through some direct sales companies like Thirty-One Gifts and Pampered Chef.”

Poag’s Posse, a team named after Ed Mendes’ nickname “Poag,” will be participating in the PurpleStride walk to end pancreatic cancer in Boston Nov. 3.

The South Attleboro residents live with their daughter, Gabriella, and one of Mary Jane’s brothers, Jimmy, and are doing their best despite trying circumstances.

Ed Mendes is still employed with RiteAid/Walgreens, but has been out on short-term disability.

Knowing the Mendes themselves could use the financial help, close friends Shannon and Jesse Aguiar held a benefit party Aug. 24 in their own Attleboro backyard.

“With over 200 people coming and going all day and night, it was truly one of the best days of my husband’s life,” said Mary Jane, who works in the business office in Franklin public schools. “Lots of money was raised through raffles, auctions and general donations.”

The backyard party raised approximately $13,000. The total raised for Poag’s Posse PurpleStride team so far, is at $4,499. And the Pampered Chef fundraiser, still in progress, stands at $803 in donations.

Altogether, the take has been $18,302, of which $13,000 has been earmarked for the Mendeses.

The Aguiars are pitching in again this weekend, holding a yard sale Saturday and Sunday at their home at 19 Fern St. in Attleboro, and a portion of the proceeds will be going to the Poag’s Posse team.

“We cannot express how grateful we are for all of their support and love through this curveball that life has thrown our way,” Mary Jane said of the Aguiars.

“Cancer has touched everyone in some way, shape or form,” she said. “Awareness is so important. I’ve shared Ed’s illness with everyone through social media as I don’t want it to be considered taboo. We want people to ask questions, get educated, know what’s involved in being a patient, caregiver, friend.”

Mendes is under the care of Dr. Jonathan Croopnick at Foxboro Health Center.

Stephen Peterson can be reached at 508-236-0377.

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