By Kaitlin Faircloth
I can still remember the cold February morning over three years ago when my parents woke me to let me know that my grandfather had passed away. I had never known a hurt like that in my life. My grandfather – we called him Papa Bruce – was such a special person. He was always busy, whether he was working at his job, watching all of his grandchildren or working in his yard. He loved every minute of it. He was always happiest when he was busy. When we found out he had pancreatic cancer we were all floored. This disease robbed us of such a wonderful part of our family. He was diagnosed in November of 2009 and just 4 very short months later he was gone forever. I was in the eighth grade, just 13 years old.
As I started my junior year in high school, I knew that I was expected to write a research paper on a topic that meant something to me. It was explained to us that our Junior Paper should be the “jumping off point” for our Senior Project. It only made sense to me that I write about the greatest loss that I have known. It amazed me how little advancement that has been made in a cure for this disease. I wrote my paper thinking of my Papa Bruce and how I could make my Senior Project be a tribute to him.
My Papa Bruce had a side business at his home where he washed cars every Saturday for people in our community. He had washed cars for over 33 years. It only made sense to me to have a car wash event and create a pamphlet to bring more awareness to pancreatic cancer. I decided to invite all of his old clients and bring back all of the people who during their teenage years had helped my Papa Bruce wash cars. I was amazed at the outpouring of love that was shown. During the two day event we welcomed so many of his past clients and the amount of people that showed up to volunteer their time just warmed my heart. We washed over 40 cars and only accepted donations. We did not put a price on what we were doing. I handed out close to 40 pamphlets and was able to share a lot of information with many in our community about pancreatic cancer. I had set a goal of raising $2,000. The event not only met that goal, it ended up passing it by leaps and bounds. To date the total raised is $3,010. I know that my project was a huge success, but it has meant so much more than that to me. I want to thank all that the Hirshberg Foundation does to promote and support research for Pancreatic Cancer.