Sentry Club is POR’s community outreach efforts.
Most charities and nonprofits focus on research, leaving a significant need for personal assistance. Our goal is to provide families with a network of support, resources, and a strong community outside the everyday hospital and treatment centers. Most families come to us because there are limited to no options to receive direct assistance for their needs.
Sentry Club serves many purposes. It ranges from providing travel assistance to a candidate to arrive at hospital visits, or covering clinical trial medical bills. For others, they just need help taking care of their family and reminders which make them smile.
Our grassroots efforts allow us to see and experience how our presence is impactful. Besides pirate costumes, Cheetos, and spa days, the greatest gift we give is the community of support and hope.
Relationships formed through our program extend beyond our first meeting. We assist these families during the most difficult of times, and continue to be there when the reality of this disease begins to increase. The families we connect with are truly amazing, and we hope to grow this program to include more families each year. The pathway we created is a small, yet strong, community who proves how impactful a group of passionate people can be. Nominate a family here.
Meet a few of our families!
The Johnson family lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and learned about POR through the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
When Alphonso Canady was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the Johnson family didn’t have a place to turn for support and POR was able to help the family with some of life’s necessities. Barbara Johnson took lead to make sure that Alphonso’s children were cared for during this difficult period. In her words, here is how POR impacted her family:
“I can truly say that Pants Off Racing stood by me and my family when we needed them the most. Words can never express the heartfelt appreciation I have for Pants Off Racing. They made it possible for my brother’s kids to have a Christmas and the gifts to make my brother comfortable in his last days, before God called him home from the fight with Pancreatic Cancer. They were an angel sent from heaven to make sure that the family stayed positive, knowing that someone really cared about our needs. Pants off racing made sure our brother had a beautiful homecoming celebration.”
Years later POR still connects with the Johnson’s. We make sure that Alphonso’s kids are taken care of during the holidays and send occasional surprises their way to let them know they are always supported.
Pants Off Racing met Ilona Brown through a direct connection.
POR has known Ilona Brown since 2012, and we are excited to share how she plans on mixing her passions with charity. She is an active real estate investor and is helping others in similar circumstances see the road to wealth is paved with multiple streams of passive income. For instance, she details easy ways to calculate return investment, and look at real life examples from local markets. Below is an excerpt from one of her newsletters:
“As part of my philosophy that business is a win-win endeavor, I’m so pleased to announce that at the close of each escrow I will donate 10% of my profits to an organization of your choice, or one of the organizations that will be highlighted in my monthly news bulletin.
This month’s featured organization is especially dear to my heart: PANTS OFF RACING (Named after the founders’ mother Nancy Amato, who “wore the pants in the family” and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer more than eight years ago”). POR has been there for my family in a very real way after my late husband, Sam Brown, passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2011.
Not only have they brought holiday gifts for the last five years (and counting) to my young boys, Max and Leo (ages 5 and 7), but they also spend time with them throughout the year. They’ve taken them tadpole hunting, played tennis with them, came to visit us when we moved to Boston for a brief stint, and more importantly, continue to give of their time and hearts.”
Leslie Fischer really lit up a room and a conversation. She was the perfect matriarch of her family. She was organized, loving, proud, and smiling at every moment. POR met her in 2013 when we went over to wish them happy holidays. It wasn’t the quickest start to building a relationship, but everything comes with time. Even Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Over a year later we reconnected and soon we would meet for dinners and occasional activities.
Visiting Leslie in the hospital as the cancer took a deeper hold was difficult. Her body had changed but she still was such a great energy source. She even had a book of all her medical records and medicines, in case she forgot due to all the chemo. Those from POR who met her learned a lot about her, her faith, and her family. She was so thankful for everything we did and the relationship she made with us, that she asked one of us to be a pallbearer at her funeral. What an honor and difficult way to say goodbye to someone we knew for such a short time but made a life long impact.
The Fischer’s still let us come over for dinner, and we have had a couple great times playing and watching golf.
Here’s a quick memory we would like to share regarding celebrating the life Leslie had.
On June 4th the Fischer family celebrated the life Leslie by unveiling her headstone at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park. It was a perfect day, and if you had the feeling that Leslie was there you would have imagined the little bird flying over the ceremony was her. It was nice to remember Leslie and see a group of her friends and family come together for this tradition.
I may have been the only one in attendance that didn’t know the tradition or custom of unveiling the headstone. I was confused since it was not the 1 year anniversary of her death. I did get a nice explanation of this from Aunt Marcia, she told me that it isn’t appropriate to suffer for someone for over a year so this takes place before the 1 year mark.
Another custom that is frequently part of the unveiling is placing stones or pebbles on the monument. This custom has many origins and interpretations, but in its simplest context, it is a representation and reminder that the family was at the gravesite. Geoff, Emily, and Alex decided that in addition to the traditional pebbles people leave on the headstone, they would place guitar picks and seashells.
Say a prayer for the Fischer family, I’m sure they are feeling the love right now, but it has to be difficult. Leslie was a pretty amazing meerkitten ever since the day we met her! It’s not often you meet someone and they cry the first time you meet, not in sadness but happiness! “Tweets and hugs” was the phrase she started, feel free to share.
Sometimes it is hard to find the good in situations we are asked to assist. Recently we were able to help a family who lost their father to pancreatic cancer a few years ago and the mom currently has scleroderma. To have this all happen in one family can be brutal and disheartening. It is circumstances like this which makes it very surprising how strong and solid the family truly is. It is powerful to experience a meeting like this, and gives you a lot of hope for them and others in our Sentry Club.
In 2018, we met just before one of the kids was about to go to college and have been able to help him make the transition like any other student. By supplying him with a new laptop and other school supplies, Callum Lapper will be a well adjusted freshman and be playing club rugby for a team in Santa Barbara. He is an awesome guy, and was super thankful for all our help.
Moments like this aren’t new for POR, but it reminds each of us the little things really do help others. Also, it was extremely fun to get to know Callum better through the college process. Hopefully he reaches out to our local meerkats in Santa Barbara. Callum has a lot of upside, as they would say on ESPN, and, after getting to hang out with him, we know he will make the most of it.
The Goldmans are one of the first families we helped. We met Krista, Dan and their 2 daughters as Dan was fighting pancreatic cancer. We are extremely lucky to be part of their lives.
Here is the Goldmans story, as written by Krista:
“Dan and I met the first week of law school at the University of Michigan. He asked me out, and I said no, 😉 and then he asked me out again, and I said no 😉 and then he asked me out again, and I said fine. Dan was not easily put off. After two weeks, we were totally inseparable. He was the edgy, Jewish, NYC actor, and I was local, Midwestern, farm-raised so we couldn’t have been more different, but it was an absolute soul mate connection. We were intellectual matches and both fairly independent and had a lot of mutual respect.
We had Jules in 2008, she was a total daddy’s girl and quite serious and would ONLY smile at him until she was nine months. Ella joined us in the fall of 2011 and was a little bundle of sunshine.
Dan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on July 27, 2012. Dan declined fast. We were in the ER almost every week after diagnosis. There was always pain, and it was six months of awful. At no point through the process was any doctor – oncologist, ER physician, gastro, hospitalist – honest and direct with Dan that this was terminal. That was left to me. Having worked with doctors as a lawyer, I knew they were human, but I didn’t fully realize how many of them shied away from these end-of-life conversations until we went through this. It was only when we were admitted the last time with an acute emergency situation, that a young resident, gave Dan the facts straight – that he would likely not be leaving the hospital and likely had 24 to 48 hours to live.
We were introduced to Pants Off Racing through Sarah Banks who works at Hirschberg and is a wonderful lady. Pat and DR came to dinner initially and met Dan, me, and my brother so we established a connection and actually had fun before things got dire. That was nice because it later felt like we were getting help from friends and not a “charity.” When things got dire, and I was at the hospital with Dan, POR came and set up our Christmas tree, got the girls presents (and wrapped them) and played with them– this was huge because I was so focused on Dan’s health I didn’t have time to do those things. The kids needed some happiness then, POR really made their Christmas a fun, normal kid Christmas in an otherwise really hard time. They also took the girls fun places and gave them something to look forward to. I’m so grateful the girls were able to have some moments of levity and real childhood fun that year.
After Dan died, they were still there and still helped. As we adjusted to our new life without Dan, they continued to take the girls out on fun play dates, giving me an afternoon or day to myself to regroup, and when the girls and I decided to move to Austin, they took the girls to the racetrack (that still makes me laugh) so I could pack. They also helped us the first Christmas after Dan died which is an especially poignant memory because that was such a sad Christmas in some ways. The extra boost of help and happiness went a long way.
The girls associate POR with fun, giant Slurpees, and loads of presents 😉 The organization is like another grandparent that spoils them, and the kids get presents in the mail just to let us know they are thinking of us. They have come to visit us in Austin, and we are going back for the race.
It has been 3 years since Dan died, and we have been in Austin two years now. I have a great job at Google that I love, we have a cute house in Central Austin, and the girls love their school. Jules remembers Dan and carries more sadness than Ella, but they both love to hear stories about him. They both take up things like skateboarding and painting because they know he loved those things so in their own way they find ways to be close to him.
Now you see why we feel so lucky to have this amazing family in our POR family. Keep an eye out for a super cute little mermaid (Ella Goldman) at the race!”
Colleen Gstalder has been part of the POR community since 2013 when we met her through connections from Toledo, OH. The surprising things about Colleen is she has had her entire pancreas, gallbladder and spleen removed (March of 2014 at Johns Hopkins Hospital) in her early 20s!
While in college at the University of Cincinnati, Colleen had a series of pancreatitis attacks. After many visits to the hospital for check ups, it was determined the next step forward was to remove her pancreas.
In 2014, Colleen was able to come to the Almost 10k in Los Angeles. At that time, it had only been 3 months since her pancreas removal surgery. The race was the first time we met in person and she brought a lot of energy and passion to the day. In true POR fashion, she was part of the set up and tear down crew and came to the after party without a nap. We are pretty sure she slept about 24 hours once she got home!
Since Colleen had to go through all of these health challenges before graduating college, she has had some major complications yet still lives each day to the fullest. She is an inspiration and reminder that life is short and we may have it better than we think. We love to hear and witness all of the great things Colleen has been up to lately since she is a source of strength for everyone!