Cancer survivor earns Jefferson Award for paying it forward


FOX 31 continues to honor our local heroes with the Jefferson Awards.

The Jefferson Award is the nation’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to celebrating public service.

Michele Bates is the most recent Jefferson Awards Winner.

Bates says, "Prayer and attitude goes a long way."

Those are the two things that have gotten Bates through her journey.

She says,"I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer about four years ago."

Bates received treatment at Mayo in Jacksonville, Florida.

"Before I left for Jacksonville, I was asked by Cancer Ties to be the recipient for their fall event which I was in awe of, " says Bates.

Cancer Ties is a non-profit that helps people that are battling cancer.

"Cancer ties made it a lot easier for me to be in Jacksonville knowing that I had some financial support that insurance doesn't pay for. " she remembers.

When she started feeling better she wanted to help others like her.

"After I was a recipient, I attended a board meeting, I wanted to pay it forward so I became a board member and then I've been the president, this is my third year," she recalls.

Her volunteer work didn't start there though. Bates has been involved with the Make A Wish Foundation for about a decade.

There's one wish that she's granted that was extra special. She says, "He was a fabulous young man and we did an interactive playground for him, we painted the walls. That's my most memorable one because he was just so appreciative...He paid it forward to me because at the Cancer Ties event he came and he auctioned off a dance for me."

Bates says her family, friends and her workplace got her through her battle but she never thought she'd help someone close to her get through theirs.

Her boss,Steve Perrine, says, "You would've thought that that would've been the only cancer we would've seen and here we are four years later and then I get diagnosed."

Perrine and Bates had to switch roles.

"We've known each other for so long we kind of went into friend mode and giver her and her husband any support they needed," Perrine says.

But this past year, he says Michele has been a great source of support for him and his wife.

He adds that just goes to show you the type of person Michele is.

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