Local group aims to grow awareness of pancreatic cancerWritten by Staff Reports | | email@example.com
By Walker Thomas, Toledo Free Press Staff Writer
The color pink has become synonymous with the fight against breast cancer, but the theme of pancreatic cancer research has come a little slower.
Kelly Kinney and Deanna Bobak are looking to change that with their Plant Purple-Grow Hope campaign, now in its third year.
A portion of the sale of purple flowers at participating nurseries during May and June will be donated to the pancreatic cancer research team at The Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen, a nonprofit research facility in Phoenix, Ariz.
“I really hope that what we’re doing helps inspire people, helps create awareness for pancreatic cancer and awareness for the need for research money,” said Bobak, who took the reins of Plant Purple-Grow Hope after founder Kinney moved to Houston.
Both Kinney and Bobak have been personally affected by pancreatic cancer. Kinney’s brother and Bobak’s father died of the disease, which is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing 37,000 Americans each year. Apple CEO Steve Jobs and actor Patrick Swayze also died of pancreatic cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, 94 percent of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within the first five years and only 25 percent survive one year. Yet pancreatic cancer research receives only 2 percent of The National Cancer Institute’s yearly cancer research budget.
Bobak’s father died about four months after he was diagnosed.
“When my dad passed … I really just wanted to make it a positive, turn it into something positive for somebody else,” Bobak said. “If there would have been something in place that could have helped him or identified it sooner … that’s kind of my goal here. My vision is that this program will help fund research and help get an early diagnosis that will enable families to have longer time together.”
Bobak said Kinney got the idea for using flowers to spread awareness from her brother’s love of nature.
This will be the third year that members of Maumee Valley Growers are involved in Plant Purple-Grow Hope. Participating venues include Barrow’s Greenhouse, Bench Farms, Bench’s Greenhouse & Nursery, Bostdorff Greenhouse Acres, Creque’s Greenhouse, Hoen’s Greenhouse & Garden Center, Louis Keil & Sons, Ohlman, Tom Strain & Sons & Daughter Too, and Wardell’s Garden Center.
“We are very happy to be sponsoring this again for the third year in a row. … The plants are in full bloom and it’s a great time to get out and visit your local greenhouse,” said Joe Perlaky, executive director of Maumee Valley Growers. “People are coming out and asking about it now in the third year. They want to do it for the right reasons. … Many have had friends or family stricken with this disease so it is meaningful to them to help in any way they can. … Every pot [that’s a part of the fundraiser] has a special tag. … We started with just the purple trailing denim petunia, but we have expanded to a list of a great variety of flowers.”
This year Plant Purple-Grow Hope also expanded to The Andersons and Sautter’s Food Center, as well as making its way south to Columbus.
“It’s a huge deal for us because it’s more, it’s expanding the program, it’s making it bigger,” Bobak said. “Any way we can grow this program is a positive step. … I’m really excited the program has grown and I anticipate it growing more in the future.”
For more information, visit www.maumeevalleygrowers.com.