Participant celebrates crossing finish line at 5k walk in Charlotte to end pancreatic cancer

PurpleStride Charlotte participant crosses the finish line

Editor’s note: For today’s installment of our 2018 Year in Review series, we’re showcasing our extraordinary and passionate volunteers. You can find more of the year’s most notable stories in the pancreatic cancer community on the PanCAN blog.

In the past year, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) accomplished a lot in the fight against pancreatic cancer. But nothing we do would be possible without the amazing volunteers who have donated thousands of hours of their time in 2018 across all 50 states and 60 affiliates.

Here are some of the highlights of volunteers working to improve the lives of patients nationwide:


PurpleStride isn’t the only thing we do, but everything we do depends on it. Volunteers make PurpleStride events possible by raising funds, organizing teams and working tirelessly to make events a success.

Thanks to all your hard work, we raised $13 million from PurpleStride events in 2018, which drives progress toward our goal of improving patient outcomes and increasing survival.

National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day

Nearly 100 pancreatic cancer survivors cheer on the steps of Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day

Pancreatic cancer survivors on Capitol Hill for Advocacy Day

On June 18-19, more than 500 volunteers, including nearly 100 survivors, turned Capitol Hill purple for the 12th annual Advocacy Day. They met with their representatives in Congress to raise awareness and Demand Better for pancreatic cancer patients and their families.

Together, we continue to sustain a bold presence on Capitol Hill and ensure that more federal research dollars than ever are going to support pancreatic cancer.

November Awareness

Supporters showed their purple pride around the globe for World Pancreatic Cancer Day on Nov. 15, and volunteers made November, National Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, a tremendous success.

Thanks to the outreach of volunteers and activists, more than 44 members of Congress wore purple to show their support for pancreatic cancer. Also, volunteers organized 20 PurpleLight events, honoring their loved ones, and 13 PurpleStrides during November.

National Volunteer Leadership Summit

In August, more than 200 volunteer leaders joined PanCAN in San Diego for a weekend of training, learning and bonding. This year’s theme was “Unlock Your Superpowers” because PanCAN volunteers are truly heroes in the work they do for the pancreatic cancer community.


Volunteers Going Above and Beyond

All PanCAN volunteers are incredible, but here are a few individuals who made 2018 extra special.

Amy Osteryoung, Advocacy Chair, Jacksonville Affiliate

A pancreatic cancer advocacy volunteer in Jacksonville holds a Wage Hope sign to find a cure

Amy Osteryoung, Advocacy Chair, Jacksonville Affiliate

After losing her father-in-law to pancreatic cancer, Amy Osteryoung decided to take action. A lawyer by profession, Osteryoung found advocacy to be a natural fit for her.

She now attends Advocacy Day every year with her family. As Advocacy Chair for her affiliate, she’s helped to bring 40-50 advocates from Florida to the event.

Mike Linse, PurpleStride Volunteer

A 16-year pancreatic survivor raises funds to fight the disease at 5K walk in San Francisco

Mike Linse and his wife Julie, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2015.

Mike Linse travels to multiple PurpleStride events around the country every year in honor of his wife Julie, who passed away from the disease. In 2018, he went to 10 cities for PurpleStride, and over the years, he has volunteered at more than 40 PurpleStride events. Formerly a volunteer leader with his local affiliate in Tulsa, he says, “I enjoy visiting with my purple family across the country. I probably know someone in every PanCAN affiliate.”

Annette Fetty-Santilli, Community Advocate, West Virginia

A pancreatic cancer community advocate volunteer serves West Virginia with her daughter

Annette Fetty-Santilli, Community Advocate, West Virginia, and daughter Stephanie

Annette Fetty-Santilli is such a dedicated volunteer and pancreatic cancer activist that Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, president and CEO of PanCAN, paid her a visit to see the outstanding work she was doing in her community.

Fetty-Santilli spends dozens of hours each month raising awareness for pancreatic cancer through outreach to government officials, local events and volunteer opportunities.

Lisa Beckendorf, 20-year Survivor, Affiliate Chair, Minnesota

A 20-year pancreatic survivor volunteers in Minnesota at 5k walk/30-mile bike ride event

Lisa Beckendorf, 20-year survivor and Minnesota Affiliate Chair

Lisa Beckendorf celebrated 20 years as a pancreatic cancer survivor in 2018 and has been involved with the Minnesota Affiliate since 2012, now serving as a volunteer leader.

The PurpleRideStride event, which she helps to organize, welcomes 2,000 participants a year and combines a 5K walk/run with a 30-mile bike ride.

Inspired by the volunteers in this story? Check out the volunteer events in your area and be a part of the action in 2019!