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Meet Maria Fundora of Purple Pansies in Alpharetta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Fundora.

Maria, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I founded nonprofit Purple Pansies in 2008 following my mother’s death from pancreatic cancer, as I felt called to raise awareness and crucial research dollars for this chronically underfunded but deadly cancer. To date, Purple Pansies has raised over $2 Million dollars to fund research through TGen (Translational Genomics Research Institute) and aid affected families.

The mission of Purple Pansies is to raise funds for research, clinical trials, early detection, and to aide families in our community who have a family member suffering from pancreatic cancer and financially can use our help. Last year with the help of generous donors and partners like Kroger, Kraft/Heinz, Anheuser Busch and Coca Cola we were able to raise $500,000. This year we have set a goal to raise $600,000 with an anonymous donor willing to match the amount.

I am also the owner of Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant in Alpharetta, and I have been motivated to step up and help the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Purple Pansies team, along with Casa Nuova has provided meals for over 14 teams of front-line workers at various hospitals and Kroger (their premier partner) grocery workers across Cobb, Forsyth, Fulton and Gwinnett counties, as well as to Meals by Grace organization and pancreatic cancer survivor families. I know the front-line health care workers around Atlanta and beyond are working incredibly hard and providing care for those who are sick (including cancer patients) during this crisis. Cancer doesn’t go away because of COVID-19, it just makes it more difficult for cancer patients during the crisis.

My goal is to give just a little bit back in honor of my mother and so many others who have died from pancreatic cancer by giving compassion and making a lasting difference in the lives of others. Over the past two weeks, Purple Pansies granted pancreatic warriors, Elizabeth O’Connor (ten-year survivor) and Bonnie Davis (seven-year survivor) monetary support in their continued fight against Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. To date, we have been able to directly help four families who are fighting this terrible disease.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I have always believed that one voice, one small organization could make an impact or a change in our world. Through the years, I have encountered people and organizations that have not wanted to talk about pancreatic cancer, they felt uncomfortable, or they have wanted their dollars to go to other cancers like breast and colon, which is ok. I have fought on believing that my mother’s death to pancreatic cancer was not in vain. We continue to be a volunteer board and organization. Some people will not work for free. But on the bright side, there are a lot of individuals that have given of their time and resources to make Purple Pansies a strong and viable nonprofit.

Please tell us about Purple Pansies.
Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all cancers but receives only 6% of research funding, and we are dedicated to raising money for much-needed cancer research and early detection tests. I’m proud to say that Purple Pansies is completely volunteer-run, meaning more of the funds raised can go directly toward donating rather than overhead costs.

On Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020 from 2:00 – 6 p.m. Casa Nuova will host a Guest Appreciation Day to benefit Purple Pansies and Pancreatic Cancer Research. This is an open house with complimentary meals, music and games for the whole family. Cost is free, but a donation to Purple Pansies is appreciated.

In September, we will host our 11th Annual Gala, which is a way to thank donors while remembering the reason I started the nonprofit – my mother. For me, it is a way to honor her life and legacy as she always showed kindness to others.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1595 Peachtree Parkway Ste 204-360 Cumming, GA 30041
  • Website:
  • Phone: 470-509-5229
  • Email:
  • Instagram: pplpansies
  • Facebook: @purplepansiespancreaticcancerorganization
  • Twitter: @pplpansies

Image Credit:
Tiffany Padilla

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