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Philanthropy Friday: PanCAN Columbus

 columbus imPRessions Philanthropy Friday: PanCAN Columbus
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Emily Hanson is a passionate volunteer who has been affected by pancreatic cancer. She lost her dad to pancreatic cancer when she was 12 years old. He was diagnosed in November and died just three months later. That was 11 years ago, and she misses him every day. As she has gotten older, she has learned the unbelievable statistics of pancreatic cancer, and that drove her to get involved. She became a volunteer of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network because she has so much hope that they can find a cure for this absolutely terrible disease that took her dad from her way too soon.

Each one of their volunteers has a personal connection to the disease. Many of them have lost a loved ones and some have loved ones who are still fighting. There are actually two survivors who are active in the group. It’s so remarkable because survivors are very rare with this disease. The seven year survivor is now working full-time and pursuing her master’s degree, and she continues to amaze us! After hearing this touching story from Emily, I wanted to help create awareness for this group, so I conducted an interview with her.

Michele: Give me a brief background on the organization. How did it start?

Emily: Nationally, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (www.pancan.org) grew out of desperate search for answers after three loved ones were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and their families realized that no one, not even their doctors, knew much about this difficult, and at the time, relatively unknown disease. As a result of their losses, Paula Kim, Terry Lierman and Pamela Acosta Marquardt formed the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in 1999.

Our Columbus affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was formed in 2004 after our Affiliate Coordinator Astrid Olfenbuttel’s mom died of the disease. At the first meeting, there were about five people in attendance, all of whom had lost a loved one to the disease. Our affiliate group has grown every year since, and we now hold several fundraising events each year.

M: Who do you serve? Who can benefit from your organization? What are the services you offer?

E: Pancreatic cancer patients and caregivers can benefit from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s PALS program, which provides one-on-one support, resources and educational materials. We also advocate for more federal research funding for pancreatic cancer and create hope for all of those affected by the disease.

M: Do you have any fundraising campaigns going on? How can people donate?

E: Our 4th Annual PurpleStride Columbus 5k run / 2 mile walk will be August 13, 2011 in the new Bicentennial Park. Go to www.kintera.org to find out more and register. We will also be having a wine benefit in the fall.

We are looking for sponsors for PurpleStride. There are several different sponsorship levels, including $500, $1,500, $5,000 and 10,000.

M: What types of volunteer opportunities do you have within your organization?

E: There are many ways to get involved! We’re looking for volunteers to help post fliers and spread the word about PurpleStride and help with registration and along the walking and running routes the morning of PurpleStride. Volunteers can also help us distribute educational packets to area hospitals and doctors and assist us with advocacy efforts with our local and federal officials.

We hold meetings each month, and we’d love for anyone who can to attend. Our next meeting is Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at The Wellness Community in Powell. We have volunteers of all ages, and we are a tight-knit group who are passionate about raising pancreatic cancer awareness and funds for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

M: Do you use social media in any way?

E: We use our Facebook page and Twitter to keep in touch with volunteers, and we post about any news or developments with our organization and pancreatic cancer.

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Philanthropy Friday is a feature series by Michele Savoldi that highlights a Columbus area non-profit organization. For more nonprofit information follow Michele on Twitter at @cbusimpressions and @inkindconnect.

Editor’s note: Please join us in thanking Michele Savoldi for the wonderful contributions she has made to CU and our city with this column. This will be the final article in this series authored by Michele. Thank you Michele for bringing so many fantastic organizations to light and best wishes to you!

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