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How Employees of American Airlines are changing pancreatic cancer

American Airlines employees are making a difference in pancreatic cancer.


It all started when a few employees formed a PurpleStride team to honor Captain John Biegel. Diagnosed in 2014, Captain Biegel lost his life to pancreatic cancer in January 2018. While fighting the disease, he became an advocate. In 2017, American Airlines featured Captain Biegel in their campaign with Stand Up to Cancer, where $1 was donated each time a flight was booked online.


Inspired by Biegel's courage and commitment to change this disease, a group of his co-workers and wife (who is also an American Airlines employee) formed the Let Purple Take Flight Team for PurpleStride Los Angeles. Within five weeks, they raised $10,000. The team’s success and passion spread through the organization. Others were inspired and wanted to participate. The interest level was so high that American Airlines' Employee Business Resource Group (EBRG) got involved.


EBRG connected with the Pancreatic Action Network to create a permanent, nationwide Wings for Purple program whereby employees receive notifications about upcoming walks. They can join a PurpleStride group of a colleague or create their own. In some cases, there are multiple Wings for Purple teams at the same event, and employees enjoy the light-hearted competition of seeing who can raise the most money.


Pancreatic cancer needs more corporate support, and this is a great way to for this happen. Employees connect, relationships are built, morale improves, and awareness and money are raised. It’s a win for both American Airlines and the fight against pancreatic cancer


Thinking of creating a corporate PurpleStride program? If so, here is helpful information.


  • What is PurpleStride? Simply put, it’s a walk to benefit pancreatic cancer. Established in 2008 in Chicago, it has grown from a single event with 1,600 participants to 55 walks and over 80,000 volunteers.


  • How does one set up a team and encourage others to participate? It’s so easy. It takes 5 minutes (max) to create a team. That can be done here, PurpleStride.org. Registration automatically generates a home page with a personalized link that can be sent out to friends and family, encouraging them to participate and/or donate. Drafts of standard forms and emails appear on the admin page to make it easy to share, and there is also the option to customize the message using personal images and messages.


  • How to initiate on-going PurpleStride campaign? It depends on the company, but generally speaking ….. Many large corporations have an EBRG, similar to American Airlines. If the company doesn’t have this, start small; it will grow. Create a team and spread the word (word of mouth, corporate intranet, HR / CSR departments).


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