Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer Raises Almost $30,000!

Written by Michelle Schmitt (mschmitt@scu.edu)

Remember, mark your calendar for next year's fifth annual Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer on May 11, 2013.

Click here for more information on the Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer

Click here for the 2012 Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer Photo Gallery

Helping raise almost $30,000 for cancer research (as of May 22), the Santa Clara volleyball team hosted the fourth annual Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer on the Mission Campus on May 12.  The Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer has raised more than $83,000 since its start in 2009 with all proceeds being donated to the UCSF Foundation.

Behind the efforts of Jon Wallace's Bronco volleyball team and his mother-in-law, Arlene Mariani, and her committee, the walk has continued to grow in numbers and donations the last four years. In addition to the Bronco volleyball team, the women's golf and men's and women's basketball teams also helped out this year for the third straight year.

"I thought our team represented themselves at the walk very well. It is also fantastic having so many of our student-athletes from other teams come out as well as a number of other coaches and staff from the athletics department. There are also a number of people from campus who walked or donated," said Wallace. "The volleyball team was there very early that morning and they helped line the course with chalk and placed purple balloons all throughout the course. They were welcoming and filled with smiles.  They understood the purpose of the walk and made a real effort to contribute. It was neat for me as a coach because they decided to run it this year. I loved seeing my son Joe (eight years old) run with four volleyball players – that was really neat for me. It was great to see them represent our team in such a strong manner."

Mariani is pleased with the growth, but it wasn't something she expected when she came up with the idea four years ago.  "Actually, I had no grand expectations," said Mariani.  "I had to try the first one and see where it would go. We got so many "thank yous" for doing this walk and with the encouragement and backing of my team of helpers so we decided to put it on again. Now, after four years, I can see that the walk actually helps heal the families that have lost a love one. It gives them purpose and a feel good way to give memory to their lost one." 

Wallace agrees.  "I think that the highlights from the walk for me are to see people out, active, and showing their support. The money raised goes to a great cause so they can further their cancer research. The walk also shows off our beautiful campus. I get compliments every year about how lucky we are to work here.  They are so pleased that our university, our department, my team and a number of others, are behind a cause like this. It's fantastic."

With the Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer lacing through the Mission Campus, it is the first time many people have been to Santa Clara and they are always impressed.

"The walk is friendly and easy," said Mariani.  "The people who come have something in common ... they want to help this cause and every penny raised goes to the UCSF Foundation for research to find a way for early detection or at least give the patient more time with their respective loved ones. I love the setting and since my father, who died of pancreatic cancer, attended Santa Clara. In addition, Father Loccatelli, who was President of the University for so many years, also passed of this disease.  Because of that, it is fitting that the walk is through the Mission Campus."

Many members of the Mariani family and also many of their friends walk.  It's something they have embraced, something Mariani is also proud of.  "We were raised to give and help and support each other when we can," said Mariani. "We did lose a father and uncle of family members, Joe Morey, another uncle, Nick Skrabo, and a cousin, Donna Gaetano, to pancreatic cancer. We have known others, and honestly some of them died at an early age. It warms my heart that they do come and support me and this cause. I am truly grateful."

Again, Wallace agreed with his mother-in-law. "What I like best is listening to the stories about why people walked. There is true passion for why they walk and certainly compassion for each other.  The sharing of stories is really healthy. It makes for a very healthy environment.  My mother-in-law, Arlene, does a great job pulling it together with her daughters, family and friends."

Mariani was asked if there were big plans for the 5th annual Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer on May 11, 2013.  "First of all, I can't believe May 11, 2013 will be the fifth year," she said with a smile.

"Yes, I would like to make it bigger and better. What makes it bigger and better is by people coming. Once you come you realize that the morning is so enjoyable.  We have strawberries, bagels, donuts and water for all. We try to make it so that you can enjoy the morning walking with friends and your whole family. I hope next year each person who has come before brings one new person who has not attended before. We hope to get a few more sponsors to help with buying t-shirts, (as many people ask for them); someone to donate balloons for the event, the list goes on!! We will take any and all help we can get. If you have a contributing thought just contact us ... we have open arms."

Those who wish to donate money or resources can contact Arlene at Arlene@walk4pancreaticcancer.com.

Wallace added his team understands more and more every year the importance of the walk.  "We are already beginning to look forward to next year's walk.  The team is really beginning to understand the importance of helping put it together.  Going forward we hope they will play an even bigger role."

A number of people have asked Mariani why she hasn't made the Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer a non-profit organization.  "That would take money.  I would rather give to UCSF Foundation and have them do all the paper work. They have the people in force to take care of the donations. It is a blessing for me."

While many wish to thank Wallace, Santa Clara volleyball, Santa Clara Athletics and of course Mariani, they are quick to thank others first.   "I want to thank Santa Clara University for allowing us to have the walk on their campus," said Mariani. "Jon Wallace is our liaison there and gets us on the calendar.  There always a few hoops to go through, but it always seems to happen! Jon encourages his staff and his team and the walkers love seeing the student-athletes come out. They are a HUGE help to us in prepping for the day. I REALLY appreciate their support. Of course maybe it is the breakfast, but I don't care because they are there and that really impresses me and the other walkers who come."

Remember, mark your calendar for next year's fifth annual Walk 4 Pancreatic Cancer on May 11, 2013.