After the success of last year’s inaugural event, Los Altos couple Leah and Aaron Nichols returned to Shoreline Park last month for their second fundraiser to end pancreatic cancer.
The 2017 Silicon Valley Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk, held Sept. 16 at the Mountain View park, raised more than $46,000.
The couple both lost their mothers to pancreatic cancer, which they said inspired them to organize the walk and raise money for research.
The 130 participants included a team of medical professionals who came out to support a co-worker battling pancreatic cancer and two single fathers who recently lost their wives to the disease, according to Leah.
“That really hit home as to why we are doing what we are doing,” said Leah, who lost her mother in 2014. “These little kids’ lives are now forever changed because they have lost their moms, and that’s really tough.”
The Nicholses were joined by their two kids and more than 20 volunteers at the walk.
Mariam Kubursi, 11, kicked off the 5K by singing the national anthem – as she did last year – after members of East West Music and Dance led the walkers in a warm-up.
Daniel Chang, M.D., a professor of radiation oncology at the Stanford University Medical Center, was among the participants.
“The walk is an incredible show of commitment toward the efforts of eradicating this terrible disease,” he said. “The money raised supports amazing breakthroughs, from new biologic agents to attack pancreatic cancer at the genetic level, unlocking the immune system to attack the cancer cells themselves, to developing new technologies to new deliver drugs and radiation therapy and conducting clinical trials that will bring all of this research into the clinical setting.”
The Nicholses organized the event in partnership with the Lustgarten Foundation, the nation’s largest private funder of pancreatic cancer research.
For next year’s third annual event, Lustgarten plans to give the couple an advertising budget to help spread the word, according to Leah.
“(Lustgarten) is very careful with their money and have their eye on what’s most important,” she said. “The advertising budget would never affect our fundraising, because 100 percent goes directly to research.”
Over the two years of the event, the Nicholses have raised nearly $100,000 to fight the disease – and they want to keep going.
“Pancreatic cancer isn’t a disease just for the old,” Leah said. “It affects people who are in the prime time of their lives, and we just want to reach more people.”
To donate and for more information, visit lustgarten.org.