While many showed up to TPC River Highlands for the last day of the golf tournament on Sunday, hundreds of people made their way across the course for the annual 18-Hole Stroll Against Pancreatic Cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates 500 people in Connecticut will die from pancreatic cancer this year alone.
“Losing my best friend and my rock, I wanted to keep the light and not live in the darkness,” says Brittany Vose from Cromwell. She was just 13 when she started the 18-Hole Stroll in honor of her father.
Her goal is to raise as much awareness and funds as possible for pancreatic cancer research.
19 years ago, Brittany’s father, John Vose, died of pancreatic cancer at age 44.
“I quickly lost him within three weeks,” said Vose.
She said going to pancreatic cancer research walks in Boston and New York helped her heal.
“I finally didn’t feel alone in the problem,” she said. “And then I came to Connecticut, living here, and I wanted to start a walk in Connecticut, so I went to the Lustgarten Foundation and here we are ten years later!”
Over the last 10 years, Vose has raised over $500,000 and 100 percent of the proceeds from her walks go to the Lustgarten Foundation, the largest funder for pancreatic cancer research in the country.
Linda Gruskiewicz from the foundation said a lot of that research is in increasing early detection.
“Right now, only nine percent of the people diagnosed live past five years,” explained Gruskiewicz.
Bob DeLisa, who was among the walkers at the 18-Hole Stroll on Sunday, is part of that nine percent.
“The oncologist said you’re cancer free, go home,” he told us with a smile.
It’s been nine years since Bob was diagnosed, and five since he’s been cancer-free. Monday is his 80th birthday.
“I was diagnosed early enough so that they did the Whipple procedure and removed the tumor,” said DeLisa. “I feel amazingly fortunate and blessed.”
With over 320 participants, the 10th annual 18-Hole Stroll raised over $65,000 this weekend.