"(My mom's) memory is the wind beneath my wings as I organize (this) pancreatic cancer event...," Maria Rydelek, race director for Westborough's 3rd Annual 5k/10k for Pancreatic Cancer Research told Westborough Patch in an email. She continued, "It is crucial to have events that can raise funds for research as well as raise awareness. The hope is to fund research so scientists and doctors can offer early detection, better treatment plans and one day a cure (for pancreatic cancer)!"
On Sunday, April 29, more than 500 area residents, visitors, and volunteers joined together to make Maria's goal a reality. According to Maria, runners came from "Natick, Framingham, Southborough, Northborough, Marlborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Uxbridge and more." She expects that the event will raise about $60,000, along with another $20,000 from a Vegas Night which took place April 27.
Funds raised by the run will be contributed to the Lustgarten Foundation, which stated in a letter, "To date, Pancreatic Cancer Research Walks have raised more than $16.1 million in support of promising pancreatic cancer research. With Cablevision's commitment to underwrite the administrative expenses of the Lustgarten Foundation, 100 percent of donations (go) directly to pancreatic cancer research."
According to Maria, "Statistics show that the average life expectancy after diagnosis with (pancreatic cancer) is just 3 to 6 months." She continued, "All of the statistics tied to this disease are just as troubling - 75 percent die within one year; 94 percent die within 5 years; ONLY 6 percent survive beyond 5 years AND (there is) too little federal funding. Pancreatic cancer research constitutes less than 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute's budget."
It Takes a Village
A five-member committee, including Maria, Angela Callery (Westborough), Cheryl Labriola (Hopkinton), Karen Ross (Westborough), and Debbi Silverman (Westborough) assembled a network of participants and volunteers. Both Karen and Debbi lost their dads to pancreatic cancer.
The walk/race kicked off at the Westborough Tennis & Swim Club, whose employees volunteered along with other local residents. Among local sponsors were GMC Buick of Westborough, Toll Brothers, Simply Fargone, and Covidien (Mansfield, MA). A number of area grocery stores provided food and water, including Hannaford (Marlborough), Roche Brothers, Wegmans, and Stop & Shop. Coca Cola (Dasani Water), Polar Beverages, Popchips and Clif Bar also provided water and food.
Maria said, "I miss my mother every day and wish she would have been given more of a fighting chance." Maria's team included her dad from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and her sister's and her family from Natick.
The same sentiment was repeated by participants who were honoring their mother, father, sister, brother and friends. At least thirty-eight teams were formed for the walk/run. Team names like "Lavallee's Angels," "Mark's Girls," "We Love You Missy" showed the depth of loss created by this disease.
"Plan C" walked in memory to TJ Inman, who was general manager of Wagner Motorsports. His widow Debbe (Barre) said, "TJ never gave up. When plan A and B were done, he'd say, let's do plan C."
Team "Crazy Diamonds" walked in memory of Pink Floyd fan Martin Farley (Franklin). His daughter said, "My dad is now a crazy diamond shining in the sky."
"Do More for a Cure" walked in memory of Marianne McCarthy of Southborough, who very recently lost her battle against pancreatic cancer. Her son Sean said, "She was going to walk today. She'd be glad that we're here."
Maria has also organized a second event to raise funds for pancreatic cancer research. “Beating the Odds” Vegas Night will was held on April 27 at the Knights of Columbus in Westborough. The evening featured Vegas games, music, dancing, hor d’oeuvres and a silent auction.
To learn more about the Lustgarten Foundation, and to contribution to the cause, visit its website.
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