About three years ago, finance executive Michael Korengold decided it was time to act on his long-held desire to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people with pancreatic cancer and their loved ones.
In 1995, Michael lost his own mother, Melanie Gainsley, to the disease when she was only 56.
“My mother was an incredibly vibrant woman and a pillar of the Minneapolis community. When the disease struck, not only did she have no hope of recovery, but we had no source of critical information, knowledgeable support or community of others sharing the experience to turn to,” said Michael. “Then she was gone within 18 months — more time than some people had back then, but not enough.”
“At her funeral, no fewer than 100 people told me that she was their ‘best friend,’ and it was hard to accept that the most charismatic, gregarious person I had ever known could be taken by such an insidious thing,” continued Michael. “I vowed to do something to help change the course of this disease someday.”
When the time was right, Michael began researching organizations to which he could direct his efforts. He met with members of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network board of directors when they were in Washington, D.C., for Advocacy Day. He liked what he saw — a group of highly committed people and an ambitious organization with its values in the right place and a clear vision for making progress against the disease that had stolen his mother’s life.
“The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is offering patients and their families an invaluable service — information, resources, community, hope — and it doesn’t stop there,” said Michael. “Besides what the organization does to help people today, it is driving toward a better tomorrow by raising awareness about this killer, providing scientific grants to advance research into the disease and its treatment, and advocating for federal research dollars. It is doing everything it can to reach the goal of doubling pancreatic cancer survival by 2020. That’s why I’m behind it.”
As president and chief executive officer of Enhanced Capital, a national asset management firm focused on lending to businesses throughout the United States, Michael knows well how to evaluate the worth of an organization. His view of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network: “I’m impressed — and glad that I’ve found the right place to deliver on the vow I made to myself when I lost my mother many years ago.”