South KC family brings awareness to pancreatic cancer by lighting up the world in purple
By Jill Draper
Kansas City is turning purple on November 19 as part of a global movement to bring awareness to a deadly disease.
Various iconic structures in the metro area will join the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Sydney Opera House in Australia in recognition of World Pancreatic Cancer Day. Look for purple lights at Union Station, City Hall, the KCP&L building, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, the Bartle Sky Stations and other locations including Brookside, Waldo, the Country Club Plaza and Town Center Plaza in Leawood and The Telegraph in Martin City. (See list below)
In south KC, Jasper Mirabile will be serving up purple cannoli during the entire month of November at his Italian restaurant on 103rd Street, donating part of the sales to Edgerton.Life, a local pancreatic cancer foundation.
Awareness and fundraising are crucial because pancreatic cancer is said to be on track to become second only to lung cancer as a leading cause of cancer-related death by the end of 2020. Early detection is difficult and symptoms are rare until late in the disease process.
Kansas City’s involvement in lighting up purple traces back to the Red Bridge neighborhood. That’s where Andy Edgerton grew up and where his mother, Jo Anna (Jody) Edgerton, still lives with other family members. Andy was a healthy 37-year-old international consultant when someone pointed out his eyes looked yellow. Jaundice is one of the few signs of pancreatic cancer, Jody says.
Most people diagnosed with this type of cancer die within a few months. By the time Andy found out, he was at stage IV. But he survived two more years and established a nonprofit called Edgerton.Life Pancreatic Cancer Foundation before succumbing on the eve of his 40th birthday.
“It was a shock,” says Jody. “But we promised him that we would continue his fight to educate, advocate and donate. And I’ve got a fourth one I’ve added to Andy’s list—it’s eradicate.”
For the past two years Edgerton.Life has held a gala fundraiser on October 23, Andy’s birthday. This year the gala is being replaced by an online auction November 13-19 and the “Light KC Purple Project.” For a suggested $70 donation, the foundation will send a package that contains a purple light bulb. Participants are encouraged to take a photo of their lit-up bulb and post it on social media with the hashtag #Light KC Purple or #WPCD (World Pancreatic Cancer Day).
“I have the feeling this may become an annual event with or without COVID,” says Jody.
Edgerton.Life’s “Light KC Purple Project” is presented by Oppenheimer, a financial planning business in Leawood. The foundation also raises money through an annual 5K run called Purple Stride and honors a local volunteer each year through a Purple Halo Award. Jody and Andy’s brother Barton both serve on the Edgerton.Life board and the foundation’s executive director is Michael Coleman, Andy’s childhood friend who also grew up in south KC.
More than 90 pancreatic cancer organizations from 35 countries and six continents are taking part on November 19 to raise awareness and inspire action. Edgerton.Life represents both Missouri and Kansas for the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition.
Jody is hopeful the coalition’s efforts will lead to new detection methods and better treatments. “There are some very innovative things going on in genetics, blood testing and clinical trials,” she says. There are also scientific reports that anti-worm drugs used for dogs are showing potential in treating some cancers, including pancreatic.
“You know what? At this point I think we’re open to anything,” Jody says.
For details on the “Light KC Purple Project” see Edgerton.Life.
- Union Station 30 E. Pershing Rd. KCMO
- Downtown Marriott 200 W. 12 th KCMO
- KC Power and Light 1330 Baltimore Ave. KCMO
- City Hall 414 E. 12 th KCMO
- Bartle Hall Sky Stations 301 W. 13st KCMO
- Kauffman Performing Arts Center 1601 Broadway Blvd. KCMO
- Meyer Circle Meyer Blvd and Ward Parkway
- Wornall Road Bridge over Brush Creek Wornall Road on the Plaza KCMO
- Charlie Hooper’s Sports Bar/Brookside 12 W. 63 rd KCMO
- The Well Bar Grill and Rooftop/Waldo 7421 Broadway KCMO
- Lew’s Grill & Bar 7539 Wornall Rd, KCMO
- Tower in Tower Park-Waldo 7500 Holmes Rd. KCMO
- Martin City Telegraph 13610 Washington Ave. KCMO
- Anita Gorman Northland Fountain 653-671 NE Vivion Rd KCMO
- Town Center Plaza 5000 W. 119 th Leawood, Kansas.
- ScriptPro Headquarters 5828 Reeds Road Mission, KS
- Sister Cities Bridge Country Club Plaza KCMO (luminaries)