PARSIPPANY, NJ - On November 10th, the township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, along with visitors from all over Morris County, came together “wage hope” for a good cause: to fight against pancreatic cancer.
On that cold Sunday, close to 3,000 people attended the annual PurpleStride, a 5K run that used as a platform to raise funds for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN).
PanCAN is a non-profit organization that works to ease the lives of pancreatic cancer patients and their families across the United States through early diagnosis/cure research, clinical initiatives, patient services and advocacy. The organization is based in Manhattan Beach, California.
“PurpleStride is incredibly important for everyone here,” said Madison Silva, who has acted as the senior community relationship manager for PanCAN for the past two years. “It gives hope to those who are sick and their families.”
PurpleStride itself was first started in 2008 and grown into a nationwide movement that decorated thousands of communities in purple ribbons. Since its creation, PurpleStride has raised more than $116 for pancreatic cancer research and patient services. This year marked the 10th anniversary of PurpleStride.
“This is all so inspiring that it gets me motivated and excited,” said Pietrina Girimonte, PurpleStride chairwoman in the New Jersey Affiliate. “This has already been a great year and we intend to reach our goal, which is to double the survival rate.”
Girimonte is a Rockaway Township resident who has been with PanCAN for seven years. In 2009, she experienced the tragic death of her father from pancreatic cancer at the age of 66. And at PurpleStride, she led 180 volunteers, along with 2,700 runners and walkers in his memory and the memory of other victims.
According to Cancer.Net, an estimated 56,770 adults (29,940 men and 26,830 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. The disease causes approximately three percent of all cancers.
It is further estimated by Cancer.Net that this year, approximately 45,750 deaths (23,800 men and 21,950 women) from this disease will occur. Pancreatic cancer is the ninth most common cancer in women and the tenth most common cancer in men. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in men and women. It accounts for seven percent of all cancer deaths. The five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is nine percent.
PurpleStride saw a little more than 40 pancreatic survivors attending. One of those survivors was Michael Weinstein, a Millburn resident who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2005, which eventually underwent surgery for in 2007. Today, he still undergoes treatment for tumors, while volunteering for PanCAN. And during PurpleStride, he became one of the walkers.
“There are so many emotions going through me while I’m here,” said Weinstein, who has volunteered for PanCAN for 11 years. “It’s an amazing feeling to be involved with a group who fight every day for loved ones to find a cure. I’m thankful to be one of the lucky ones.”
For the whole morning and afternoon, participants ran and walked around the 3.2-mile route through the business campus. When they were finished, spectators enjoyed browsing at various sponsor vendors and merchandise tables. There was even face painting, popcorn and purple cotton candy for the kids.
The 5K collected over $16,800 alone. However, fundraising for PanCAN had been going long before PurpleStride. And according to the PanCAN website, PurpleStride has collected a total of more than 524,000, which is 20 percent more than the intended $438,000 goal!
“This is a wonderful fundraiser,” said Parsippany Mayor Michael Soriano, who participated as a runner. “We put our hearts and our hope with those we lost to this terrible disease.”
Sponsors of PurpleStride this year included Celgene, Abbvie, ISPEN, Atlantic Health System, RWJ Barnabas Health, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, PIX 11, WCBS New Radio 880, Sports Radio 66AM 101.9 WFAN New York, TriSalus Life Sciences and Interpace Diagnostics.
For more information on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and about PurpleStride, visit the organization’s website at https://www.pancan.org/.