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An Alpharetta-based nonprofit continues to bring hope to those affected by

pancreatic cancer while fundraising crucial donations needed to further

cancer research.

Photo by Tiffany Padilla

ABI MARMUROWICZ FOR THE AJC - Founded in 2009 by Maria Fundora, Purple Pansies Inc. continues to honor the life of Iluminada Milian, who passed away from complications of cancer in 2007.

Now in its 11th year, the nonprofit spreads awareness of the disease, funds local and national clinical trials, and strives to help find an early detection test that Fundora’s mother never had access to.

Fundora said pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all cancers but only receives 6% of research funding. “Besides the funds we are raising for research and awareness, we are supporting local families as well and getting grants to support those families that have been impacted by pancreatic cancer,” Fundora said. “I’m very proud of that.”

Fundora said Purple Pansies is completely volunteer, meaning more of the funds raised can go directly toward donating.

In September, Purple Pansies will host its 11th Annual Gala, which Fundora says is a huge way to thank donors while remembering her mother.

“For me, it is a continuing way to be able to honor her life and honor her legacy, as she was a human being and individual of kindness,” Fundora said. “Even coming from an extremely poor family, she was still extremely resilient and continued to grow.”

Fundora said the nonprofit’s original fundraising goal was $650,000, but that this year, “we have an anonymous donor that will match those funds if we raise those funds.”

Fundora held the first fundraiser for pancreatic cancer in 2008 on the Mother’s Day after her mom passed away. She raised around $3,000 for a nonprofit in California and was encouraged to start a grassroots organization after that successful Mother’s Day.

“It brings me great happiness to continue to honor my mother’s life and that she is still alive, because I am a believer that love never dies,” she said.

To donate or learn more about Purple Pansies Inc., go to


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