Companies, Loved Ones Partner in Creative Ways to Sponsor PurpleStride Events

Home About the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network July Companies, Loved Ones Partner in Creative Ways to Sponsor PurpleStride Events


Mark Shovlin, his three grown children and his son-in-law were ready for PurpleStride Rhode Island. It was Sunday, May 5, and it had been just over five years since Sherry Shovlin, devoted wife, mom and mother-in-law, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Prior to her death in late 2011, Sherry had participated in PurpleStride Rhode Island with her family. So it was fitting that they rally those who knew and loved her to join Team Sherry at this year’s event. Thanks to the support of friends and family, Team Sherry was the number-one fundraising team – with 48 members raising more than $50,000 – and husband Mark was the number-one individual fundraiser.

The end of Sherry’s life came too soon. But in many ways it was the start of a highly visible, meaningful and successful partnership between supporters of the Shovlin family and well-known New England-based Ocean State Job Lot, a closeout retailer with a reputation for contributing to charitable causes.

This year, the two teamed up as “presenting sponsors” of PurpleStride Rhode Island, which allowed each to financially contribute to the event and, in turn, be recognized for their contributions.

It was a natural coming-together. There was a history.

Marc and Alan Perlman, founders and owners of Ocean State Job Lot, knew the Shovlins well and thought the world of Sherry. When she lost her battle with pancreatic cancer, they and company employees wanted to support the upcoming PurpleStride Rhode Island 2012.

Ocean State Job Lot Marketing Director David Sarlitto said the company is commonly approached by local non-profits. And while there are many worthwhile organizations, “it isn’t until it becomes personal that you feel the urgency to act.”

And so they did.

Sarlitto remembers spearheading a fundraising campaign in turbo-gear last year. Over the course of three days prior to PurpleStride Rhode Island 2012, the Job Lot team set in motion a fundraising campaign, complete with in-store posters, scripts at checkout stands, a social media blitz and an online promotion that reached more than 100,000 consumers in a day. In the end, 107 participating stores and an online retailer had raised more than $54,000 in cause marketing revenue and matching gifts for PurpleStride Rhode Island 2012.

The experience was so rewarding, Sarlitto said, that employees were eager to get behind the cause again for the 2013 event. Given the opportunity to co-present this year’s PurpleStride with the Shovlin family, the answer was easy.

Donna DeDario, director of corporate and community relations for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, said the presenting sponsorship is a great example of strong, successful collaboration between a corporation and private donors.

“While we wish that neither the Shovlins nor Ocean State Job Lot had been touched by pancreatic cancer, we were so appreciative of and inspired by the co-presenting sponsorship,” she said. “We’re hopeful this example will encourage our supporters to think creatively about how they can become a presenting sponsor at our events, as the presenting sponsorship generates tremendous visibility. The efforts of Ocean State Job Lot and the Shovlin family are incredibly significant to our work in fighting pancreatic cancer.”

For the Shovlins, who endured dark days alongside Sherry as she waged a nearly three-year battle with pancreatic cancer, PurpleStride Rhode Island was bright and beautiful.

“The number of people who came out to support our team and remember Sherry was incredible,” her husband, Mark, said. “I’ll never forget that. It was very fulfilling for our family.”

Fight4Bobby Makes an Impact at PurpleStride Washington, DC 2013

Among the nearly 5,000 striders at PurpleStride Washington, DC, a Father’s Day weekend event (see related story in this month’s Pancreas Matters), were 44 members of team Fight4Bobby, there to celebrate and remember Dr. Roberto “Bobby” Friedmann, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2011.

PurpleStride Washington, D.C. 2013, presented by Fight4Bobby, was the perfect opportunity for the Friedmann family, friends and colleagues to pay tribute to Bobby through a presenting sponsorship.

The Friedmann family established the Fight4Bobby campaign after Bobby’s passing with a “Keep the Memory Alive” tribute page. Recognizing the generosity of everyone who loved him, the family extended the Fight4Bobby campaign beyond his tribute page by establishing Fight4Bobby LLC and becoming the presenting sponsor of PurpleStride Washington, DC.

“We tied in Father’s Day and the fact that my dad would’ve celebrated his 60th birthday this year, and we encouraged supporters – many of them repeat donors – to further contribute to his legacy,” said Bobby’s son Nick Friedmann. “That we were able to do this is very telling of the type of person my father was and the many lives he touched. It meant a lot to our family to be able to get involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in an entirely new way.”

For further information regarding family and/or corporate sponsorships, please contact