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Morstead headlines PurpleStride 5K run to battle pancreatic cancer

Saints Pro Bowl Punter Thomas Morstead to serve as Champion of Hope for the event as affiliate raises funds, awareness for fourth-leading cause of cancer death in U.S.

Saints punter Thomas Morstead helps kick cancer to the curb (Photo: Parker Waters).Saints punter Thomas Morstead helps kick cancer to the curb (Photo: Parker Waters).

New Orleans, La. – The New Orleans affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will host its inaugural PurpleStride New Orleans on Sunday, May 19 at City Park in New Orleans, LA. Participants have the chance to take part in a 5K timed run and a 1-mile family-friendly walk to raise funds and awareness about pancreatic cancer.

Saints Pro Bowl Punter Thomas Morstead will help volunteers lead the efforts against pancreatic cancer as PurpleStride New Orleans' Champion of Hope.

"PurpleStride New Orleans is meant as a day of hope and inspiration for people who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, as well as a tribute to people who have passed away from this terrible disease," said Chris Young, spokesperson for the volunteers of the New Orleans Affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. "Money raised helps fund personalized support for patients, their families and caregivers, as well as supporting research that will hopefully lead to better treatment options to increase survival for pancreatic cancer patients."

All those who would like to join the fight against pancreatic cancer are invited to attend the event, which will take place at City Park. Participants have their choice of walking, running, or taking part in the timed race on a course that runs through the iconic Live Oaks and beautiful scenery at City Park, including the Pavilion of Two Sisters. The event will include live music and other family friendly festivities throughout the day. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. The timed run will begin at 8:00 a.m. following opening ceremonies with the fun run/walk to start at 8:15 a.m. To register, visit www.purplestride.org/neworleans.

"I'm proud to be a part of this event – especially since it's the first PurpleStride in New Orleans," said Morstead. "My mother is a breast cancer survivor and, although it's not pancreatic cancer, it's a disease that affects and has touched so many people in some way. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer and if I can be even a small part of fighting this disease, I'm proud do it. Even though I will be unable to be at the event on may 19, I will be with participants in spirit every step – every stride – of the way. I've started my own fundraising page for PurpleStride New Orleans, Team Morstead."

Pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of all major cancers - 74 percent die within one year of diagnosis and the five-year survival rate is just six percent. A recent report indicates that pancreatic cancer is anticipated to move from the fourth to the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States by 2020, and possibly as early as 2015. Despite these sobering statistics, approximately two percent of the National Cancer Institute's federal research funding is allocated to pancreatic cancer.

"As a 13-year survivor of pancreatic cancer, I'm proud of the local affiliate and our first ever PurpleStride event," said Metairie native Joe Balfour. "I've lost a lot of friends to this disease and talked with several survivors, but there are not enough of us. I hope we are able to create more awareness about pancreatic cancer in New Orleans through PurpleStride and continue to fight this terrible disease."

This year more than 45,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and nearly 38,500 will die from the disease. This devastating disease has claimed the lives of many public figures, including Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, actor Patrick Swayze, physicist and first American woman in space, Sally Ride, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Ralph Steinman, Carnegie Mellon University Professor Dr. Randy Pausch, actor Michael Landon, and opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the New Orleans Affiliate, visit www.pancan.org.

About the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. The organization is leading the way to increase the survival rate for people diagnosed with this devastating disease through a bold initiative—The Vision of Progress: Double the Pancreatic Cancer Survival Rate by 2020. Together, we can know, fight and end pancreatic cancer by intensifying our efforts to heighten awareness, raise funds for comprehensive private research, and advocate for dedicated federal research to advance early diagnostics, better treatments and increase chances of survival.


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