Hundred of enthusiastic runners and walkers turned out Saturday at Westlake Village City Hall for the 7th annual Pancreatic Cancer Research Run, 10k/5k , also known as Pam’s Run.
Organized by sisters Kristen and Jessica Bardwil in memory of their late mother, Pam, who died of the disease in 2007 at the age of 54, the fundraising event has been growing in size and popularity and has raised over $700,000 for the Lustgarten Foundation, a private funder of pancreatic cancer research.
“We started this on Valentine’s Day seven years ago on the one year anniversary of our mom’s passing, so we’ve come full circle today,” said Jessica. “This year, we’ve raised over $100,000 alone.”
Following Pam’s passing, her family wanted to do something to appropriately honor her memory. “She was an avid runner and loved her community,” said Kristen. “So, ultimately, we threw a party she would want to attend.”
Underwritten by Cablevision, the event’s donations go directly to the Foundation. “Everything we raise, including the $35 registration fee, goes to research,” said Kristen.
Pam’s husband, Steve, also an avid runner, said he is overwhelmed by the community’s response. “At first, this was about us, but it has morphed into something bigger,” he said. “It’s become less about us and more about others who need the support, whether they are going through the illness themselves or have lost someone to it.”
Elex Michaelson, an ABC7 reporter and a Bardwil family friend, has been emceeing the event for the past four years. “I went to high school with Jessica; she was my prom date. And I knew Pam well,” he said. “To come back year after year and to see so many people come together and [the turnout] get bigger and better is an amazing thing.”
The Westlake chapter of Moms in Motion (MIM) has been participating in the event for the last several years. “Kristen and Jessica connected with us, because they felt our group reminded us of their mom,” said Karen McElfresh, a MIM team organizer. “Because we are about fun, fitness and community spirit, this is one of our focus events of the year.”