COVID-19 Can’t Keep a Good Race Down
BY LINDSAY SCHNEIDER
Summer is finally in the air, and that means the season of fundraising and awareness run/walk events is upon us. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed how certain organizations are orchestrating these events and their creativity is helping them raise more money than ever before.
There Is Always Hope
The Pancreatic Cancer Hope Foundation was founded to raise awareness and dollars toward pancreatic cancer research. Their fundraising efforts go directly toward pancreatic cancer research and support for people affected by the disease in the Lehigh Valley. Their signature annual fundraising event, J’s Run, began as a way to honor Joan Stein and Jennifer Reeves — two local women who ultimately lost their fight with pancreatic cancer and in whose memory the event continues.
A Virtual No-Brainer
Anitra Winkler, Vice President, Pancreatic Cancer Hope Foundation discusses the challenges and victories of this year’s event:
“When the world began to change due to the COVID19 Pandemic, the Board at the Pancreatic Cancer Hope Foundation was unsure of the challenges we might face with the 11th Annual J's Run. We were in the middle of planning our race when the world seemed to suddenly stop and we needed to make a decision fast. The thought of canceling or postponing our race never crossed our minds. Cancer doesn't stop because of a pandemic, so why should our race? The challenges our patients face on a day to day basis fighting this disease increased tremendously for them and we needed to be there for them now more than ever.
From a financial perspective, we realized that it would actually cost us less to host the race virtually, which would put more money into funding research and providing support for patients and their families. We decided each participant would receive race S.W.A.G. and we would still honor our top individual fundraiser and top team fundraiser. We began to work very closely with our race director, Rochelle Romeo at Titan Event Company to work out the details of becoming all virtual. With her guidance on the new way of hosting a race and the power of social media we took the challenge on.
We noticed about two and half weeks away from the race, we had registrations from 7 states, so we challenged social media to see how many states could join us in the fight against pancreatic cancer. The idea took off and the registrations began to double and triple. In the end, we had 211 virtual participants from 14 states, together we traveled 654 miles! Teams rallied their support and we raised $7,650 just from online donors. In order for us to still come together, we asked participants to share their virtual run/walk with us and who they were supporting for this cause. The response was overwhelming and is a beautiful tribute to all of those we have lost to this disease and those who are fighting.
As we look to the future, we hope that this year's virtual race has raised more awareness for pancreatic cancer and brought communities together near and far. Everyone can make a difference in this disease no matter what our circumstances might be.”
The First in the Valley
J's Run helped to fund the first pancreatic cancer support group in the Lehigh Valley through The Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Each month, they offer pancreatic cancer specific guidance for patients, family, caregivers, and loved ones.
This year, the creativity and forethought that the Foundation brought to their signature event have allowed them to finalize the Pancreatic Cancer Hope Foundation Fund at Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute.
This fund directly supports pancreatic cancer research. Over the years J’s Run has supported genomic testing at Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute and has provided freezer equipment for new pancreatic cancer tissue bank for pancreatic cancer research. They are making a difference in the fight against pancreatic cancer.