Richard Conner

Richard Conner

Editor’s note: Our stories in celebration of Black History Month continue, as we recognize the important impact that supporters like Richard Conner are making in the fight against pancreatic cancer. This year’s Black History Month theme is “Black Health and Wellness,” a natural tie-in with Richard’s story. Pancreatic Cancer affects Black Americans more than any other racial or ethnic group.

At the height of the pandemic, Richard Conner was doing a lot more running. He was also searching for meaningful ways to connect with others and build community. The idea of merging those interests led Richard to start his own running and healthy lifestyle-focused podcast in the fall of 2020. His vision was to inspire listeners to take control of their health and to be encouraged by the uplifting stories of podcast guests.

He also wanted to use it as a way to promote virtual runs and walks across the country – and causes important to him.

Richard’s “Inspire Virtual Runs” podcast now has over 40 episodes in its library and with those episodes, an opportunity to educate and inform on topics outside of running, too.

Pancreatic cancer, PanCAN and PanCAN PurpleStride events to end pancreatic cancer are among the topics that mean a lot to him, and he has used his podcast to share information about all three.

PanCAN PurpleStride Connecticut team members Richard Conner and family

Richard Conner, family and friends at a pre-pandemic PanCAN PurpleStride Connecticut. The family has a PurpleStride team each year.

Richard lost his mother-in-law to pancreatic cancer in 2016, just six months after her diagnosis. It had taken the family by surprise.

“After she passed away, we found PanCAN and the Connecticut Affiliate of PanCAN volunteers,” Richard said. “We went to one of their PurpleLight events that honors pancreatic cancer survivors and those who have passed away, and we heard so many stories that inspired us to get involved.”

Participating in PanCAN PurpleStride Connecticut and taking steps to end pancreatic cancer was a natural fit.

When all PurpleStride events transitioned to virtual events during the pandemic, the family still enjoyed participating. Together, they created a team and fundraised to bring more awareness and funds to the fight.

Richard also used his podcast platform to do the same.

“I had been sharing some of my own running journeys on the podcast, but pancreatic cancer is part of my story, too, and I wanted to share that as well,” he said.

He invited a local PanCAN staff member and volunteer leader on the show to talk about PurpleStride as well as how PanCAN is there for patients and their families with free, personalized support and resources.

PanCAN’s vision is to create a world in which all patients with pancreatic cancer will thrive. Our mission is to take bold action to improve the lives of everyone impacted by pancreatic cancer by advancing scientific research, building community, sharing knowledge, and advocating for patients.

PanCAN fundraiser Richard Conner and family

Richard Conner and family

“PanCAN is a nonprofit that is dear to me, and I wanted to share that with this podcast community,” he said. “I also wanted to bring the cause to life for the audience. We shared the statistics of pancreatic cancer and encouraged them to get involved in their communities.”

This year, on April 30, 2022, 60 PanCAN PurpleStride events across the country will happen on the same day. Richard, his wife and their three children will all be there.

“We love PurpleStride,” he said. “It’s a spectacular event, a really heart-warming experience with the community coming together for a cause. When you show up, you feel energy, love, warmth, excitement. It’s all there.”

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