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Growers rally behind purple flowers to support TGen cancer research

PHOENIX, Ariz. April 20, 2011 A group of Ohio greenhouse growers hopes a "shock wave" of purple flowers will eventually roll across America in support of scientific research to end pancreatic cancer.

Starting May 1, the Maumee Valley Growers and 16 affiliated northwest Ohio greenhouse retailers will raise funds for the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) by selling "denim shock wave petunias" through a program called Plant Purple-Grow Hope.

"We are delighted to be the first grower organization in America to partner with TGen in support of this important cancer research," said Joe Perlaky, Program Manager for the Maumee Valley Growers.

Plant Purple-Grow Hope will set aside 50 cents for every 4.5-inch purple petunia pot sold by the non-profit Maumee Valley Growers and their partners, through June 30. Denim shock wave petunias were selected for the campaign because of their ease of care and purple hue, which is the color of pancreatic cancer awareness.

Kelly Kinney of Toledo, Ohio, initiated Plant Purple-Grow Hope in memory of her brother, Bret Connors, a Scottsdale, Arizona, resident who lost his three-year battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009.

"I've always found comfort in nature," said Kinney, whose brother was an avid outdoorsman. "Then I thought of growing hope."

After being turned down by several retailers, Kinney eventually found a receptive ear in the owner of a nursery, associated with the Maumee Valley Growers, whose mother died of pancreatic cancer.

Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation, enthusiastically embraced what he described as Kinney's innovative idea. "We are thrilled that gardeners and homeowners throughout Ohio will have the opportunity to join the fight against pancreatic cancer in such an elegant and environmentally-friendly way," Bassoff said.

To launch a Plant Purple-Grow Hope program in your community, please contact Erin Massey at the TGen Foundation at 602-343-8470.

Proceeds will fund TGen's globalCure initiative, an alliance of some of the world's foremost scientists, physicians and pancreatic cancer advocates that aims to find a cure for this disease. Pancreatic cancer annually takes the lives of more than 35,000 Americans, making it the fourth-leading cause of cancer death.

Kinney said the hope is to eventually roll the program out to growers and nurseries across the nation. "I just really wanted this first year to work on awareness, getting the program off the ground and supporting globalCure," Kinney said.

The backbone of globalCure is an alliance announced in March between TGen and TGen Drug Development's Pancreatic Cancer Research Team (PCRT). PCRT includes leading pancreatic cancer scientists, physicians and researchers, armed with the most technologically advanced tools and resources, at 46 top-flight medical research institutions worldwide.

"This has been a wonderful collaboration from the start," said Perlaky of the non-profit Maumee Valley Growers, whose efforts in time and expertise are supported by a grant from the University of Toledo.

"However, none of this would have been possible without the guidance of Kelly Kinney, whose passion for the cure encouraged our marketing committee to develop this program of public awareness and education," Perlaky said.

Kinney said she believes Plant Purple-Grow Hope is a fitting way to preserve the memory of her brother, Bret, who is survived by his wife and three sons. For more on Bret's life, please visit:


Contact: Steve Yozwiak
The Translational Genomics Research Institute

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