This last weekend, I experienced my first Lehigh Valley Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk, or charity walk of any kind for that matter. It was hosted by the Lustgarten Foundation and took place along the Lehigh Parkway in Allentown.
I first learned about this event through one of the members of my fraternity whose father had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His dad was diagnosed over the summer so the first few weeks were really tough when he came back to school. We all tried to make him feel better and cheer him up and when he mentioned he was doing this walk, we couldn’t say no. So about twelve of us decided to show some support and go with him to the event. I was originally planning on going to the Celtic fest that weekend, but I decided that going to this walk would be much more meaningful. I feel that this event would be a much more personal experience since I was doing it for a friend. I haven’t really been personally attached to most of the other charitable events that I’ve done in the past.
A few days before the walk, we all got together and preregistered and set up accounts so that we could make donations. I also sent out a tweet and a Facebook message to try to get others in the area to come to it. The sign in for the walk started at 8:30 that Sunday morning so we woke up at 7:30, got together up at our fraternity house, and headed over to bagel basket for some breakfast. The car I was in also stopped by Pantry 1 to pick up some trail mix for the walk. The dress code was very casual and t-shirts were provided for us when we signed in, which I thought was great because who doesn’t love free t-shirts. When we first got there, we were surprised by the amount of people that were there. People from all over came to show support for friends and family that were also struggling with this disease. We got a chance to talk to a few of the other groups, and there was even a decent amount of other Lehigh students there. The event itself was very relaxing and walking a few miles out in nature can really bring people together. We found ourselves talking to mostly every other group we passed on the walk and learning more about people from the community. Whether it be a quick friendly hello or a longer conversation, everyone that we talked to made us feel like a part of the community. They also set up signs at certain intervals along the course that gave facts about this type of cancer in order to raise awareness.
If I were a part of the committee that set up the event, I would have a few suggestions to make it more appealing to go to and make it run more smoothly. When we were driving there, it was relatively hard to find where it was due to the fact that it’s a decently sized park. I would recommend setting up more signs or balloons to guide people to the parking lot. On top of that, I would suggest that they have one or two of their volunteers direct people in the parking lot so that people didn’t just park in a cluster. Due to the fact that the event was on the earlier side, I would also suggest that they sell food there. This would make the event much more appealing to college aged students in the area. They could even partner with a local restaurant and donate all the profits to research. That would increase the amount of money going towards finding a cure for pancreatic cancer, and it would also help the local businesses that they partnered with.
Overall I had a very good time at this event; it was a good cause that I had a personal connection to and it was a great way to start the day. A three mile walk in a nice park is a great way to lift someone’s spirit. If I end up working somewhere close next year, I would highly consider going back.
As light hearted of a walk this was, the underlying cause is very serious. I was doing some research on Pancreatic Cancer when I got back from the walk, and I found that even though its such a serious disease, there’s nowhere near enough funding put towards finding a cure. Its also one of the few cancers for which the survival rate has not substantially improved over the last 40 years. It also has the highest mortality rate of all the major cancers. According to the foundation, 93% of patients die within five years of being diagnosed. That’s an insane number and the fact that it has shown little improvement is really unsettling. One of the main issues with this type of cancer, is that it isn’t nearly as well known as it should be for one of the deadliest types.
I would like to ask all of you to do whatever you can to help support this cause. Since the amount of federal funding is nowhere near enough to combat this extremely deadly disease, its up to us to show a little generosity. Donations of any kind would be more than appreciated. If you are unable to donate for whatever reason, all I ask is that you tell one other person about this walk, just to spread the word around and raise awareness. The Lustgarten Foundation, or any other reputable charity that gives all of their money to research for pancreatic cancer, could really use your help. You can also sign up to be a volunteer to help set up the walk, which is something that I will be doing next year if I am able. You can find out any other information about the Lustgarten Foundation on their website. Also if you know about any other events that you feel are a good cause or are passionate about, let me know and I’ll help spread the word too.
P.S. This years walk raised about $83,000! Its not just a walk…we’re actually making a difference!
If you want to donate or sign up to volunteer, you can go to: