Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta have a lot in common. They’re both fast-growing metropolitan cities, located just 250 miles apart along the East Coast. They share that unmistakable Southern culture, and a healthy sports rivalry. Both cities are also home to passionate volunteers determined to shatter every goal in the fight to end pancreatic cancer.
This month, we’re putting the spotlight on two of those amazing volunteers, PurpleStride chairs Grace Lynch of the Charlotte Affiliate, and Julie Parmenter of the Atlanta Affiliate. Through their work with PurpleStride, Lynch and Parmenter have helped raise critical awareness for a disease that has personally impacted them both. And much like their home cities, the two have developed a little friendly competition in the process.
“As a first time PurpleStride Chair last year, I drew from the successes of PurpleStride Charlotte for inspiration,” Parmenter said. “I set the goal of having an event as successful as Charlotte’s, and Atlanta was able to do just that—raising about $55,000 more than our initial PurpleStride goal!”
According to Lynch, the success of PurpleStride Charlotte boils down to innovation and collaboration. “I’m honored to think that our event is inspiring Atlanta,” she said. As for the friendly competition, Lynch had three words: “Bring it on!”
Jennifer Pear, JD, MCFS, event manager for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, has had the pleasure of working with both Lynch and Parmenter. Here’s what she had to say about the two chairs’ amazing accomplishments, and how healthy competition can help communities make strides in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network: How did Julie and Grace get involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and how do their individual skills make them great PurpleStride chairs?
Pear: Grace and Julie are both great leaders. They’re always willing to go the extra mile and set the example for their teams. Grace’s niece, Carmen, passed away far too young from pancreatic cancer, so she dedicates her time and effort in her memory. Grace is also an avid runner, and uses previous races that she’s participated in as inspiration to enhance Charlotte’s PurpleStride. She once took over a local twitter account for the day and turned the town purple!
Julie quit her job to care for her mom, Linda, after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After her mother’s passing, Julie was determined to honor her through volunteer work. She offered to step into the team ambassador position, in addition to serving as PurpleStride chair, when the person in that position was no longer able to fulfill the role. Julie is also a top PurpleStride fundraiser, and her team was a top team last year.
PanCAN: What traits do Grace and Julie have in common?
Pear: They both have tremendous enthusiasm. Last year, Atlanta and Charlotte both exceeded their goals significantly. Neither of them is afraid to ask for help. They both have a philosophy of “If you never ask, the answer is always no” – which I absolutely love.
PanCAN: Speaking of competition, can you tell us a little more about the friendly competition between PurpleStride Charlotte and PurpleStride Atlanta?
Pear: During spring and summer 2016, Julie often observed things that the Charlotte Affiliate had done, and asked me if she could do them in Atlanta. As each of their respective events closed in, Charlotte was doing a tremendous job—reaching far above its goal and pushing to go higher. Charlotte’s success became a benchmark for Julie and the Atlanta Affiliate as Atlanta, too, began to trend up with its fundraising and surpass its own goals. Grace and the Charlotte team encouraged Julie and the Atlanta team in their success. Each of these events beat the event goals significantly—Charlotte by $45,000 and Atlanta by $55,000. This year, they have already checked on the other’s goals as a benchmark for what to aim for, as well as what to beat!
“I think one of our key strengths is our ability to collaborate,” Lynch said. “There is not any one person that makes decisions in a silo. We are constantly talking to one another, coming up with new ideas, and looking for feedback from each other. We really are like a big family; we have each other’s back and we want the best for each other personally.”
Read more about our amazing volunteers across the country, who we love celebrating during Volunteer Appreciation Month, and every month of the year. To get involved in the fight against pancreatic cancer, join your local affiliate and find a PurpleStride near you.