June’s PurpleStride to Give Footing to Pancreatic Cancer Fight
What: PurpleStride Sioux Falls Presented by Mattress Firm
When: Saturday, June 2
Where: Cherry Rock Park
Why: The Walk to End Pancreatic Cancer
When spring hits in Sioux Falls, the city’s popular bicycle trail becomes a major thoroughfare. From lunchtime walkers and fundraising events to bicycle commuters and weekend warriors, residents descend upon the trail corridor to enjoy sun-drenched days.
Among the earliest events planned this year for the trail is PurpleStride Sioux Falls Presented by Mattress Firm, “The Walk to End Pancreatic Cancer.” The inaugural event in 2017, put on by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, drew 576 runners and walkers.
Organizers expect this year’s event on June 2, at Cherry Rock Park to top that number.
“Last year was our first year for the event in Sioux Falls and we beat our participant goal,” says Donna Scott, PurpleStride Sioux Falls co-chair. “We have set our goal even higher this year and our registration numbers are strong.”
PurpleStride is an opportunity for survivors, family and friends to pay tribute to those who have been affected by pancreatic cancer. But the event is also an opportunity for anyone to walk to end pancreatic cancer and “Demand Better” for patients.
Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and it is on track to become the second leading cause by 2020. More than 55,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year with pancreatic cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of only 9 percent.
Scott’s daughter Elinor died September 12, 2014, after being diagnosed with the disease just eight months earlier. “Pancreatic cancer is a tough disease that often doesn’t get diagnosed until it’s too late,” Scott says.
The pancreas is located deep within the abdominal cavity, behind the stomach and in front of the spine. It produces digestive enzymes that help the body use and store energy and also regulates blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop and grow out of control, causing tumors.
The disease’s symptoms often are vague but can include abdominal or mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, loss of appetite, indigestion, changes in stool and new-onset diabetes.
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the only organization that addresses pancreatic cancer through research, clinical initiatives, patient services and advocacy.
Sioux Falls resident Linda Reckling lost her mother to pancreatic cancer in 2016, prompting her to take part in the first PurpleStride Sioux Falls last year.
“I’ll admit I went to my first PurpleStride with a heavy heart,” Reckling shares, “But after I arrived at the event, that feeling soon changed. I saw hundreds of participants wearing purple and suddenly I felt my grief subside. I felt a sense of unity with people I didn’t even know. There were so many individuals like me—people who’ve had their lives changed forever by pancreatic cancer. I felt less alone and it inspired me to support this cause and support those fighting pancreatic cancer.”
This year, Reckling and her husband, Ryon, are gold sponsors of the event through their business East Ridge Dental, 518 N. Sycamore Ave.
“What stands out for me is this: PurpleStride Sioux Falls equals support. It offers support for the people who are currently fighting this disease and their families. It also provides support for the loved ones who’ve been left behind. When friends and family join in and participate in this event, it means so much to those who’ve been affected by pancreatic cancer,” Reckling says.
To register or donate to PurpleStride Sioux Falls, go to PurpleStride.org/SiouxFalls. Use discount code WAGEHOPE for 10 percent off your online registration.
Participation brings the group closer to its goal of doubling pancreatic cancer survival by 2020, Scott says. “Every person, every donation helps PanCAN with research and patient services.”
Reckling adds, “The two major health systems we have in Sioux Falls contribute considerably in creating awareness and promoting causes that focus on improved health and wellness for our community. When you add that with the fact that our community’s culture is founded on Midwestern values, you have a win-win.”