Why do I harangue my friends year after year?
Connie Ferris-Franke died in 1998.
Jayne Bradley Chagnon died in 2000.
Christine Ferris died in 2001.
Margaret Brower died in 2005.
Heather Stevens died in 2006.
Etta ("TEN") Mendenhall died in 2007, as did her brother, Tom Hildebrand.
Jenny Sweeting died in 2011.
Rachel Barron died in 2014.
Rosa Salazar died in 2017, as did Lee Harris.
Connie and Chris were Liz's sister and mother, Rachel was a close friend of ours, Heather and Etta ("TEN") were friends from a local running group and the others above were relatives of other team members. Each of them was felled by pancreatic cancer and with each of their deaths, a family was torn apart.
Any cancer diagnosis is a devastating one but hundreds of thousands of people survive other, more prominent forms of cancer and they join ever-growing armies of survivors who advocate for funding for those diseases. Pancreatic cancer, on the other hand, now claims more lives in the US than breast cancer does (and it's on the rise) but it has no army. I have thus made it my personal mission to take up the battle for those we have lost and for those who are fighting the disease, to be their advocate. The Hirshberg Foundation was a tremendous resource for us when Connie and Chris were battling the disease, and likewise for Heather and Etta and Rachel, and I have been involved with the foundation since its earliest years.
This is not a "charity" event hosted by a for-profit race director donating a small percentage of the proceeds to charity. This is a pancreatic cancer foundation putting on its own event for the 21st consecutive year in a row (my 21st as well) to fund pancreatic cancer research projects. Only research will change the needle on this disease and this single event has funded 78 pancreatic cancer seed grants since 2005, including 29 in the last three years. Still, in those same three years, we have had to turn away more than a hundred other applicants, all with novel ideas on how to tackle the disease, so just think of all the research that isn't being done.
This is not a race – it's a mission!
Please join me -- help me! -- wage war on pancreatic cancer.
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