Community fundraiser adapts amidst global pandemic

Dedicated. Resilient. Compassionate. These are just a few words that describe Pam Kosolofski, a steadfast champion of progress for pancreatic cancer patients – even amidst a global pandemic.

Each spring, Pam organizes a purple pansy fundraiser for Pancreatic Cancer Canada in her hometown of Eston, Saskatchewan and other nearby towns. Over the past eight years, Pam has raised thousands of dollars to support critical research and programs in support of our fight against this horrible cancer. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic was looming this spring, Pam went into planning mode, determined to make the fundraiser work by taking extra precautions. Her volunteers were on board as well, ready to help where needed.

She reached out to past supporters for their flower orders and implemented physical distancing measures to keep everyone safe during pick-up. “I decided to collect the money either by e-transfer or cheque in the mail,” Pam said. “On pick-up days we had tables with the lists of orders. Everyone stayed at least six feet apart and collected their own flowers.”

Like so many others, supporting Canadians with pancreatic cancer is a very personal mission for Pam: she lost her husband to the disease 9 years ago.

“We got the diagnosis on October 22, 2010. We knew nothing about pancreatic cancer. We researched so much,” Pam said. “He had the Whipple surgery which gave him a few extra months. We pressed for it.”

Although Pam lost her husband just nine months after diagnosis, she strongly believes that advocating for the surgery gave them more time together. Her advice to others facing this disease is to gather as much information as you can and advocate for treatments that could provide more time, too.

Pam started selling purple pansies the year after her husband died to support others impacted by pancreatic cancer. She credits the success and growth of her annual fundraiser to the overwhelming support of her community, many of whom she sees year after year. “It has grown so much over the eight years. We started with 195 four-inch packs of pansies and now sell 2,100 packs with four plants in each!”

Are you interested in supporting Pancreatic Cancer Canada while practicing physical distancing? Reach out to Hannah Rolland at hrolland@pccf.ca or visit our website to learn about virtual fundraising.

Pam (left) and volunteers Danielle and Cora get ready for pansy pick-up.