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stepNout' for TGen cancer research eclipses $500,000

Pancreatic cancer research benefits from many dedicated volunteers

TEMPE, Ariz. - Oct. 24, 2011 - Step by step, a band of dedicated volunteers have managed over six years to raise $500,000 for TGen's research of pancreatic cancer, the nation's fourth leading cause of cancer death.

Started as a small gathering of family and friends, a fundraising event called "stepNout" has blossomed, helping position the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) at the forefront of an international effort to cure this aggressive disease.

Nearly 1,000 participants are expected from 7-11 a.m. on Nov. 6 at Tempe's Kiwanis Park for the 6th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash, whose motto is: Fighting pancreatic cancer one step at a time.

The emcee of this year's stepNout is 12 News weeknight news anchor Mark Curtis.

It is not as big as some fundraising events. Instead, TGen's stepNout succeeds because of "family, friends and a flurry of $5 bills," said Roseanna Robinson Norman of Scottsdale, a member of TGen's National Pancreatic Cancer Committee and one of the many volunteers who are the driving force behind stepNout.

"When we started, nobody knew about stepNout. It was a brand new event. Very few people knew what pancreatic cancer was. The fact that we will go over $500,000 at this event this year is a testament to hard work and the generosity of this community," Roseanna said.

Nearly 44,000 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011, and more than 37,000 will die this year from this aggressive disease, which kills many patients within the first year. The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach that secretes enzymes into the small intestine to help digestion and produce hormones. There are no early detection methods available, so the cancer usually is not found until its advanced stages.

In a story emblematic of the difficulties faced by patients with pancreatic cancer, and the impact this disease has on their families, Roseanna's husband, Michael Norman, returned home from a round of golf one day in 2003, complaining of unusual pain in his lower back.

He had played as much as four times a week at the Pinnacle Peak Country Club in north Scottsdale since 1995, when he retired following a more than three-decade career at the Dial Corp.

Just seven weeks after his first symptoms, despite the best efforts of his doctors and Michael's valiant fight for survival, he was dead.

In the weeks following his death, Roseanna attended a talk by Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen's Physician-In-Chief and a world-renowned expert on pancreatic cancer. Robinson said Dr. Von Hoff's passion and concern convinced her to do everything she could to fund TGen's pancreatic cancer research.

In each of the past five years, friends from across the nation have joined Roseanna, rising at 4 a.m. on event day, and meeting with other volunteers to ensure that everything is in place for a successful stepNout.

"The ultimate goal is to have fun, enjoy the day and raise money for Dr. Von Hoff's team," she said of stepNout. "That's what keeps us going. We believe in all the work being done by TGen and Dr. Von Hoff."

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If you go to stepNout:
What: The Translational Genomics Research Institute's (TGen's) 6th annual stepNout Run/Walk/Dash, benefitting pancreatic cancer research.
Where: South end of Tempe's Kiwanis Community Park, 6111 S. All-America Way, Tempe. Enter off Guadalupe Road at All American Way, west of Rural Road.
When: 7-11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6. Race Day Packet Pick-up and Registration starts at 7 a.m.; the races start at 9 a.m.
Cost: Fees $10-$35, vary by age and event. Save $5 by registering by Oct. 21 online at: www.helptgen.org.
Pre-Race Packet Pick-up & Registration: Road Runner Sports, 43 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe, from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5


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