Purple Pansies team during their 2020 virtual gala event that raised over $1.2 million. Their motto for the gala was, “Cancer Doesn’t Stop and Neither Do We.”

Purple Pansies was founded in 2009 following the death of Maria Fundora’s mother from pancreatic cancer. When Maria’s mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and died three months later, Maria felt called to raise awareness and crucial research funding for this chronically underfunded but deadly disease. She chose the name Purple Pansies because she thought, “What grows in the winter and survives always? Pansies — they have the DNA to survive tough conditions.” Purple Pansies became a 501c3 organization in 2017 and are a volunteer organization.

Purple Pansies is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of individuals and families fighting pancreatic cancer through humanitarian assistance and research funding. The funds they raise are used for research, clinical trials, early detection, and to aide families in our community who have a family member suffering from pancreatic cancer and can financially use their help.

Since March, Purple Pansies has been helping other nonprofits and frontline heroes during COVID-19. They have helped deliver over 1,000 meals to hospitals, Kroger grocery stores, survivors of pancreatic cancer, and Safehouse Outreach in Atlanta. They also partnered with Operation Smile and local high school students to deliver meals to hospitals of their choice.

Purple Pansies, like most nonprofits, had to switch their annual gala from an in-person event to a virtual event, but their motto was, “Cancer Doesn’t Stop and Neither Do We.” With the help of many wonderful and generous donors, corporate partners, and a donor that was willing to match any amount up to $600,000 that they raised, Purple Pansies raised over $1.2 million and are continuing their efforts and campaign through the end of December.

Purple Pansies is gearing up for pancreatic cancer awareness month. Maria owns a restaurant in Alpharetta, GA, called Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant, and one day during the month she will donate a percentage of all sales to Purple Pansies. They also participate in a Giving Tuesday in December, and the entire staff of Casa Nuova is very involved with the organization and often volunteer their time during Purple Pansies events. In the next few months, they’re very excited to finalize a Purple Pansies scholarship for children of a parent or guardian that has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and needs financial help to attend school.

Purple Pansies is in the process of changing their logo so individuals and businesses know their non-profit is all about pancreatic cancer. Purple Pansies states that pancreatic cancer is the one cancer no one wants to talk about, and they feel it’s because when most people are diagnosed, it is already Stage 4 and feel hopeless. They are very supportive of the WPCC’s efforts to continue awareness education around knowing the risks and symptoms of pancreatic cancer. They’re excited to hopefully attend the WPCC conference next year and be more involved with the organization.