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Purple Stride's fundraiser battles pancreatic cancer

Purple Stride aims to raise funding and awareness against pancreatic cancer. The Pausch Bridge on Carnegie Mellon’s campus was built to honor professor Randy Pausch, who lost his battle with the disease. (credit: File Photo) Purple Stride aims to raise funding and awareness against pancreatic cancer. The Pausch Bridge on Carnegie Mellon’s campus was built to honor professor Randy Pausch, who lost his battle with the disease. (credit: File Photo)

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting pancreatic cancer, held its annual Purple Stride Pittsburgh 2011 Pick Up the Pace last Sunday. Participants from around the city convened at the North Park swimming pool in Allison Park to kick off the event, which consisted of a five-kilometer run and a one-mile walk with family and friends to honor and remember loved ones who battled pancreatic cancer.

All of the Purple Stride proceeds will go toward advancing research and aiding those affected by pancreatic cancer.

“Fundraisers like this are good ideas,” said Brian Park, a junior social and decision sciences major. “More money is always necessary for the advance of research of medical problems.”

According to the PanCan website, “Survival rates [for pancreatic cancer] have remained in the single digits for 40 years. Look at pancreatic cancer survival rates and you’ll see something deadly wrong. Today, the five-year survival rate is just 6 percent.” PanCan’s goal is to double those survival rates by 2020. The group also hopes to raise awareness of this specific type of cancer; with high mortality rates and minimal funding, members feel pancreatic cancer deserves national attention.

The disease is especially well known to members of the Carnegie Mellon community, who lost computer science professor Randy Pausch to pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2008. His memory inspired a team called “Pausch’s People” to enter the Purple Stride event this year. Led by Adam Rauf, a master’s student in the Software Engineering Institute’s business operations department, and Vivian Lee, the executive assistant in the Institute for Software Research, Pausch’s People raised $230 for Purple Stride and the fight against cancer.

Rauf and Lee are not the only ones at Carnegie Mellon to have been involved with cancer fundraisers. Many students participate in the annual Relay for Life event sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Last year, student groups ranging from activities clubs to sororities and fraternities walked around the Cut in an all-night fundraiser.

“I did Relay for Life last year,” said Joanne Yun, a junior in H&SS. “It was a great experience and well worth the effort. Cancer is such an awful disease, so being a part of something that’s actively fighting it is great.”

Although Purple Stride only lasted three hours, it exceeded the organizers’ expectations. With over 80 teams participating, Purple Stride beat its fund raising goal of $100,000 and finished the day with $102,804 to further research and support for pancreatic cancer patients.

Refreshments and entertainment, along with activities for kids, were provided free of charge at the Purple Stride event. Information about pancreatic cancer and PanCan’s research on the disease was also available at the event.