We often say that the volunteers in our organization have “sparkle spirit”— a spirit filled with positivity, hope and passion. One volunteer affiliate, in particular, takes sparkle spirit to the next level while working toward hosting their first PurpleStride.

Kristen DeSanctis (far left) with fellow Louisville Affiliate core role members.

Kristen DeSanctis (far left) with fellow Louisville Affiliate core role members.

The Louisville, Ky., Affiliate, formed in 2010, has been taking charge in the fight against pancreatic cancer in The Bluegrass State. They took a complete grassroots and volunteer-driven approach to growing their affiliate without national staff support and were able to transform their community.

Kristen DeSanctis, Affiliate Chair, got involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in 2010 when her younger brother received a pancreatic cancer diagnosis at 32. They volunteered together and after his passing she vowed to continue to be his voice.

As she began to go about carrying on her brother’s legacy, she noticed the once small affiliate (about a handful of people) had started to grow.

“We have several long-term volunteers and new active volunteers as well. We worked very hard on recruiting core role volunteers and because of that, the affiliate is growing at a rapid pace,” Kristen said.

Always a lively group, they’ve engaged their community in a variety of ways and they seize any opportunity to create awareness.

“We’ve always been a very active volunteer group and do many events to support the fight. We hold an annual PurpleLight event, which has been growing and has reached top attendance numbers. It’s expanded so much that we had to find a bigger venue! We engage our community through our local Facebook page and do our best to visit our oncology resource centers to let them know about our upcoming events. We also make it a point to encourage our volunteers to bring a friend or family member to our meetings.”

When it comes to planning their first ever PurpleStride, the affiliate didn’t shy away from the challenge.

“This was a long-awaited application process for us and we’ve been working toward having this event since 2011! Our tenacity shows that we have an engaged base of volunteers who can support our fight and raise funds,” Kristen said.

The Louisville Affiliate in action during a meeting.

The Louisville Affiliate in action during a meeting.

The application process involved in organizing a first PurpleStride is extensive. Looking for venues, researching other walks that have happened in the area, securing potential corporate sponsorships and figuring out how many volunteers are available are just a few things that are taken into consideration.

“The planning process has been inspiring for us,” Kristen said. “We’re lucky to have many eager people join us either by planning the event or by joining and registering a team for our walk.”

Their upcoming PurpleStride on Aug. 6 may be Kristen’s proudest moment yet as Affiliate Chair. Being able to execute a PurpleStride is a testament to their hard work and the determination everyone has shown to Wage Hope in their community.

“Being able to grow to the point of having a PurpleStride has been a dream come true! I’m so proud of all of our core roles for their leadership in helping to make this happen, and our general volunteers are amazing, too! It makes me proud to see us accomplish this by working together.”

The future is bright for the Louisville Affiliate, and they plan to expand their sparkle spirit beyond their community.

“My hope for the Louisville Affiliate is to see even more growth and exposure. We hope to see more pancreatic cancer patients find us and know they have a place to turn to for answers and support. We want people everywhere to know who we are.”

Do you have sparkle spirit to share? Check out where the next PurpleStride is happening in your area!