Earth Angels, published in the spring, focuses on the actions of Women’s Rugby Club members April 5, 2003, to help survivors of a multi-vehicle accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Four people died at the scene, and twenty-eight were injured. The IUP team was honored by Reader’s Digest as the 2003 Heroes of the Year and by the Pennsylvania State Police for heroism
The book also addresses the dynamics of being a member of a rugby team and issues related to women’s athletics. Sarkees is donating 20 percent of all proceeds from book sales to a foundation to advance women’s athletics.
The book offers personal insights into the families of those who died in the crash and shows how the accident significantly changed the lives of the IUP women who assisted the victims and emergency responders.
The students’ lifesaving actions were recognized throughout the region. Team members were honored July 30, 2003, by the Pennsylvania State Police with Outstanding Citizenship Awards, offered to individuals and organizations that have assisted the department in providing a significant service to the commonwealth.
The story was featured in Reader’s Digest’s “Everyday Heroes” section, which led to the rugby club members’ selection by readers as the 2003 Reader’s Digest Heroes of the Year, with 7,500 electronic votes.
Several of the students traveled to the magazine’s headquarters in New York City for a special luncheon in their honor and rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange on March 26, 2004.
Team members honored for their efforts were Ariel Baum, of Hatfield; Crystal Brenning, of Clairton; Mandy Cobb, of Wyalusing; Lauren Culley, of Chicora; Steph DeHaven, of Coatsville; Kristen Double, of Butler; Erin Harkins, of Pittsburgh; Chrissy May, of Manheim; Justine Metzger, of Willow Street; Joeylyn Miller, of Pittsburgh; Jaime Noble, of Peters Township; Molly Perchinski, of Williamsport; Karen Riedel, of Lancaster; Jess Scheetz, of Coopersburg; Jenna Sloan, of Edinboro; Rachel Stern, of Creekside; and Audra Turner, of Mercer.
Earth Angels, published by iUniverse, a self-publishing company, has received two awards from the publisher: the Rising Star award, given to a publication based on its potential for commercial success, and an Editor’s Choice award, given to a book that publishers judge to be well written.