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Monday January 24th

Video helps UNC family in need

<p>Patti Coyne Powell (second from left), who was diagnosed with cancer, and her children celebrate her daughter’s graduation.</p><p> Courtesy of Patti Coyne Powell </p>
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Patti Coyne Powell (second from left), who was diagnosed with cancer, and her children celebrate her daughter’s graduation.

 Courtesy of Patti Coyne Powell 

In late August, Patti Coyne Powell was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Coyne Powell is a mother of four children, aged 2, 15, 18 and 19. She is employed as a teacher’s assistant at a Pennsylvania elementary school.

“She’s one of those people who’s just the greatest mother in the world — she lives for her children, does everything for her children, she’s just extraordinary,” said Tina CoyneSmith, Coyne Powell’s sister and the director of development and prospect management for the Arts and Sciences Foundation at UNC.

Coyne Powell’s cancer has progressed far enough that she is unable to return to work, leaving her without a source of income and struggling to cover basic living expenses, particularly rent, CoyneSmith said.

Enter Derek DeShane — friend of Tim CoyneSmith, Coyne Powell’s brother-in-law.

DeShane, who works for Lenovo, and his family entered a video into a contest sponsored by Lenovo for the company’s employees. The first video to get 500,000 views will be awarded a grand prize of $50,000. But instead of pocketing the money, if DeShane’s video wins, he plans to give all of the proceeds to Coyne Powell and her family.

While the video was not initially created to benefit Coyne Powell, Tim CoyneSmith approached DeShane with an idea: Use her story to promote the video, and if it won, her family would get a portion of the proceeds. DeShane and his wife decided to go all in.

“It would really be no skin off our noses if we just gave it all to her,” DeShane said. “It’s a good cause, and her family needs the money.”

The outpouring of kindness from those such as DeShane has overwhelmed Coyne Powell and her family, she said.

“People still help people — there are still good people in the world that help others with no strings attached,” she said.

Even if the video doesn’t win, the DeShane family’s generosity won’t go unappreciated, Coyne Powell said.

“Whether or not they win the contest, that incredible, generous act has brought them such a sense of hope,” Tina CoyneSmith said. “The importance of that sense of hope can’t be overstated.”

At the very least, DeShane has driven traffic to the GiveForward page, which has now raised $6,000 for Coyne Powell and her family.

For Coyne Powell, the kindness of friends, family and strangers alike has lifted her spirits.

“I am overwhelmed with the generosity of people, some of whom I do not even know, just dropping things off at my house, donating to a ‘give it forward’ fund my sister has going, bringing me food, everything,” she said.


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