ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Purple Pansies, Atlanta-based nonprofit dedicated to eradicating pancreatic cancer, celebrated another successful year at its 14th annual Pillars of Hope Gala, shining a spotlight on survivors and the relentless quest to find a cure. The gala, which took place this past Sunday, raised an impressive $775,000 to support the cause.
Since its inception in 2009, Purple Pansies has remained steadfast in its commitment to allocate 100% of all funds raised, minus expenses, towards combating pancreatic cancer. Founder Maria Fundora, driven by the heartbreaking loss of her mother to pancreatic cancer just three months after diagnosis, has transformed her grief into unwavering determination. She initiated fundraising events at her restaurant, Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant, then in 2018 teamed up with friend Janice Chalovich to take their efforts to another level and become a formidable force for change.
This year’s theme, "Illumination," was to recognize the need for light and hope in the darkness that is pancreatic cancer and a nod to the origins of Purple Pansies. Maria’s mother’s name was ‘Iluminada’, Spanish for illuminated, and she lived up to her name. She shone a light on those in need and shared her light with others. These are the principles on which Purple Pansies was founded and they continue to build on.
Recognizing the growing urgency, Purple Pansies joined forces with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a division of City of Hope, a nonprofit medical research institute dedicated to pioneering strategies targeting pancreatic cancer.
“Janice and I are so happy to have a wonderful, close and collaborative relationship with the team at TGen, and are so proud to be able to fund their groundbreaking work,” said Maria Fundora, Purple Pansies Founder.
To date, Purple Pansies has raised over $5 million to provide emergency financial aid to patients and their families, grant scholarships to children from families impacted by pancreatic cancer, and support groundbreaking research and clinical trials. This small, but mighty fully volunteer run organization, has played a pivotal role in the development of key regimens employed in the treatment of pancreatic cancer today.
“Purple Pansies has raised enough funds to help TGen create three of the four drugs that are used as the standard of care today for pancreatic cancer,” said Janice Chalovich, Purple Pansies Co-Chair.
The highlight of the gala was the presentation of the Pillars of Hope Bill Palmer Legacy Award, an accolade that pays tribute to the late Bill Palmer (founder of Applebee's) for his trailblazing support of Purple Pansies and his valiant battle with the disease. This year's recipient, Dr. Andrew Page, was recognized for his tireless advocacy on behalf of pancreatic cancer patients.
Dr. Page is the director of surgical oncology for Piedmont and is the co-founder of the Piedmont Pancreas Cancer Surgery Clinic. Additionally, he is the founder and director of the Atlanta Pancreas Cancer Conference held annually in November for physicians, clinicians, patients and caretakers.
“I am honored and humbled to accept this award,” Dr. Page said. “Mr. Palmer’s legacy, Purple Pansies, TGen, and our team at Piedmont all share the same impassioned goal – to detect pancreas cancer earlier, and to cure more patient patients diagnosed with this aggressive cancer.”
In a heartwarming moment, Purple Pansies also introduced Jenna Koch as the newly appointed Purple Pansies Scholarship Ambassador. The Purple Pansies Scholarships are not just about supporting young people affected by pancreatic cancer with their academic futures, but also to give them a platform, to raise further awareness and funds to support our mission.
Jenna will play a pivotal role by creating a collaborative community of young change makers amongst the scholarship recipients and providing encouragement and coordination of their efforts.
About Purple Pansies
Nonprofit Purple Pansies was founded in 2009 following the death of Maria Fundora’s mother from pancreatic cancer, as she felt called to raise awareness and crucial research dollars for this chronically underfunded but deadly cancer. The mission of Purple Pansies is to offer immediate support to individuals and families affected by pancreatic cancer, while funding research and clinical trials, to conquer it.