Lisa Niemi Swayze, Eric Idle, Jean Trebek, Rosario Dawson Among the Notable Participants to Walk and Raise Awareness, Critical Funds for One of the Toughest Cancers
Select celebrity photos can be found here.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (May 1, 2023) – This past Saturday, April 29, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) held its largest annual fundraiser, PanCAN PurpleStride®, the ultimate walk to end pancreatic cancer. For the second year in a row, PurpleStride took place nationwide across 60 cities as survivors, supporters, celebrities and special guests walked in solidarity to raise awareness and much-needed funds for pancreatic cancer, one of the world’s deadliest forms of cancer. It is the number one way PanCAN raises funds to fuel its mission and the dollars raised change the lives of people facing pancreatic cancer and advance progress against the disease. Over 70,000 people were expected to attend across the country with a goal of raising $19 million towards fighting the disease.
Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States with a five-year survival rate of just 12%. With no standard early detection test and few effective treatment options, there continues to be an urgent need to increase funding, research, and awareness to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer.
Coast to coast, the pancreatic cancer community came together to raise awareness and funding for this disease. In Los Angeles, PurpleStride LA took place for the first time at the Santa Monica Pier.
“It’s been over 20 years since my own father was diagnosed and passed away from pancreatic cancer and since I joined this organization–and I continue to be amazed by the immense outpouring of support for our mission from people like you and organizations across the country,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, president and CEO of PanCAN at PurpleStride LA’s opening ceremony. “The funds raised today will enable critical research and services for patients.”
Since 2003, PanCAN has invested $174 million in research and will invest an additional $30 million toward research this year alone -- advancing early detection strategies and new treatments for patients.
A number of notable celebrities and special guests showed up to walk and support PanCAN’s mission in several cities across the country:
At PurpleStride New York, Lisa Swayze, writer, director, actress, dancer and wife of the late Patrick Swayze, who passed from the disease in 2009 and Franke Previte, singer, songwriter and Academy Award-winning composer who co-wrote music for the hit soundtrack for the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing, participated. Ruschell Boone, Spectrum NY1 News Anchor and pancreatic cancer survivor, served as the event emcee.
At PurpleStride D.C., actor Rosario Dawson walked in honor of her father who is currently battling pancreatic cancer.
At PurpleStride LA, Eric Idle, British comedian, actor and author, and a four-year pancreatic cancer survivor, served as this year’s survivor speaker at the Los Angeles event’s opening ceremony; “Star Trek” actors Kitty Swink, a 19-year pancreatic cancer survivor, Armin Shimerman and John Billingsley, who lost his mom to the disease from the fundraising team “Trek Against Pancreatic Cancer” walked; and Jean and Emily Trebek, wife and daughter of the late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, who passed away from the disease in 2020, spoke to the crowd of over 2,000 participants.
“There is not an hour that goes by when I don’t think of Alex and I miss him very much. His life touched millions of people and he did not take that for granted,” said Jean Trebek at the PurpleStride LA opening ceremony. “It is vital that we continue to offer hope, care, inspiration, and compassion to others and to ourselves. My heartfelt thanks to the amazing PanCAN organization for the incredible resources they supply to patients, their family members, caregivers, and to the healthcare industry at large.”
Progress is being made in the pancreatic cancer community. In January, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer reached a new all-time high of 12%, an increase of one percentage point from last year. This is the first time since 2017 that the survival rate has increased for two consecutive years, a promising upward trend in the fight against this tough disease. However, pancreatic cancer is currently the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. and is on track to become the second leading cause.
Donations can still be made by visiting purplestride.org. PanCAN PurpleStride is generously supported by national sponsors Ipsen, GRAIL, and AbbVie. For more information on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and its urgent mission to save lives, visit pancan.org or follow PanCAN on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.