Project Purple takes another step

From left, Project Purple Founder and Board of Directors Chairman Dino Verrelli, pancreatic cancer survivor Kevin King of Wallingford, pancreatic cancer survivor Ron Hiznay of Shelton, and Project Purple Board of Directors member Alexander Palios celebrate June 30 after a ribbon cutting to officially open the nonprofit’s new office at 94 North Main St. in Beacon Falls. –LUKE MARSHALL

From left, Project Purple Founder and Board of Directors Chairman Dino Verrelli, pancreatic cancer survivor Kevin King of Wallingford, pancreatic cancer survivor Ron Hiznay of Shelton, and Project Purple Board of Directors member Alexander Palios celebrate June 30 after a ribbon cutting to officially open the nonprofit’s new office at 94 North Main St. in Beacon Falls. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — A journey that began with a single step has led a local nonprofit organization to a new building.

Project Purple, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and funds toward a cure for pancreatic cancer, celebrated the grand opening of its new office at 94 North Main St. on June 30.

“This event wasn’t just about opening a new office. It is a celebration. We have a couple of survivors here. We invited local runners here from Connecticut,” Project Purple Founder and Board of Directors Chairman Dino Verrelli said.

Verrelli started the organization in 2010 after his father died from pancreatic cancer. Project Purple grew out of Verrelli’s desire to run to cope with his father’s battle.

In 2011, Verrelli started his goal of raising money by running 13 half-marathons in 13 months. Now runners come from across America, and even from other countries, and run in some of the most popular marathons to help raise money for Project Purple.

Verrelli said the organization’s rise to popularity is what he had hoped for from the beginning.

“I’m a big dreamer,” Verrelli said. “I had big aspirations.”

The grand opening of the new office marks only one of the many milestones for the organization, which has raised over $2 million in six years.

Project Purple uses the money in a variety of ways, from helping people afflicted with pancreatic cancer pay bills to funding research.

“In the last 24 months we have granted over $500,000 in research grants,” Verrelli said. “In the next 90 days we are going announce almost $400,000 in research grants.”

How the organization has grown in just six years does surprise Verrelli.

“I think to see that so quick has been the bigger thing because I didn’t think it would happen this quick. But clearly it has,” Verrelli said.

Verrelli attributed the organization’s success to its board of directors and the runners who volunteer.

“It isn’t rocket science but we have worked really hard to get to where we are,” Verrelli said.

As Project Purple continues to grow and expand, Verrelli wants people battling the disease to know there is hope.

“We are funding a ton of research projects. So there is hope. Don’t give up hope,” Verrelli said.

Verrelli also had a message for people not battling cancer: get involved and make a difference.

“Don’t wait for it to happen to you. Now you have the opportunity to help and support. It might be us or another cancer charity. Don’t wait. Try to get involved early,” Verrelli said.