You know people are devoted to a fundraiser when they brave cold and ice to attend. That’s exactly what happened at this year’s “An Evening of Hope with Tricia Downing,” benefiting Wings of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research. This heart-felt event continues to grow, even as organizers strive to keep it simple yet enticing, using dollars that could be spent on hotel ballrooms and décor to go toward research projects instead. It’s fitting that the event is held at its medical-partner location, home of the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Board member and pancreatic cancer survivor Jim Comerford (left), with friends and family

On Saturday, Nov. 17, around 200 supporters gathered at the Anschutz Medical Campus for the annual event that ended up being held during a quick-moving winter squall. The evening began with a silent auction and reception catered with enticements from Catering By Design, and Denver School of Arts student-violinist Gilbert Karam entertained the convivial crowd. Guests adjourned to the auditorium for a program of stories of pancreatic-cancer survivors, researchers and clinicians, including: board member and pancreatic cancer survivors Jim Comerford and Arturo Garcia; and Connie Via, who introduced her friend and Wings of Hope founder Maureen Shul. Representatives from CU Cancer Center also spoke: Karyn Goodman, M.D., Associate Director of Clinical Research; Wells Messersmith, M.D., Division of Medical Oncology, Associate Director for Translational Research; and Richard Shulick, M.D., , Director of CU Cancer Center.

The live auction was full of fun.

A supremely lively live auction was run by dynamic Jim Berz, who kept the audience laughing—and donating. Keeping with the evening’s theme of hope, Paralmpian Tricia Downing took the stage and shared her story of an accident that altered her competitive cycling dreams, and detailed her journey to adjust and grow into her current sparkling athletic career and life. She’s author of “Cycle of Hope: My Journey from Paralysis to Possibility.”

WINGS OF HOPE for PANCREATIC CANCER RESEARCH is a non-profit foundation dedicated to raising awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer research and programs at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. As the most underfunded, under-recognized and least studied of all deadly cancers, WINGS OF HOPE for PANCREATIC CANCER RESEARCH is committed to bringing awareness to this disease and increased funding to the ongoing research taking place at the CU Cancer Center.

In February 2013 the University of Colorado Cancer Center entered into a formal partnership with WINGS OF HOPE, with both entities combining efforts to have the CU Cancer Center become the regional hub and national destination for pancreatic cancer research. The foundation’s focused effort not only helps better define priorities, but also makes a definitive statement as to the critical urgency and need for pancreatic cancer research to continue at an accelerated pace. To learn more, please visit