Walking with Purpose

Several hundred people stepped up to the challenge of beating a deadly illness. Walkers of all ages participated in Naperville’s third annual Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk.

In preparing for the walk, teams raised money to be donated to the Lustgarten Foundation, a not-for-profit that works to raise funds and support for pancreatic cancer diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention.

Several years ago, the disease hit close to home for Naperville resident Ann Zediker. So she decided to spearhead the walk.

“My father passed away from this disease in 2010 and I think this is an amazing way to honor him and also have a very special event in our town,” she said.

Aurora residents Mario and Natasha St. Victor were blindsided when Mario was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“Within four weeks, he lost over 60 pounds and was in the hospital and now he’s still fighting for his life,” said Natasha.

And fighting right along with him were about 30 of his friends, co-workers and neighbors who gathered in support of this morning’s cause.

“This is overwhelming. I did not expect this many people but it’s very nice. It’s very comforting seeing all these people coming out supporting me,” said Mario.

Naperville resident Joanne Larsen is also battling pancreatic cancer but says this event brings hope.

“I’m very proud of my family and all of these people that are here to support. Bad times bring good people,” said Joanne Larsen.

“She’s a strong, tough lady and we’re really proud of her and want to back her up however we can,” said Karen Amundsen Larsen.

Once called a silent and deadly killer, there have been strides in research for Pancreatic cancer thanks to events like this.

“People understanding a little bit more about pancreatic cancer helps,” said Zediker. “I think doctors are becoming more educated and in addition, they’re getting some earlier detection, techniques and devices doctors can use to help with pancreatic cancer.”

Last year’s walk raised nearly $50,000 and event organizers say they should be on pace to match that this year.

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