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Saving lives slice by slice: Annual pizza fundraiser for pancreatic cancer awareness

It's a perfect recipe for pushing back against pancreatic cancer.

SCRANTON, Pa. — The Sheakoski brothers have the pizza-making business down to a science, right down to the way they stack their dough-filled pans.

But pizza isn't the only recipe they've perfected. The co-owners of Pizza by Pappas in downtown Scranton have created possibly the easiest fundraiser you could ever participate in.

All you have to do is order a pizza.

"This Sunday from 12 to 5, we're going to be donating 50 percent of our profits from any pizza sold to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network," Tom said.

In 2009, the family wanted to give back to the community that had made them so successful.

It just so happened that a customer, Teresa Grabowski, wanted to host a fundraiser at her husband's favorite pizza shop. He had just lost his fight to pancreatic cancer.

"I was looking for something, and by chance, she called me that same week. When I looked into it, it was a cause that seemed like it wasn't really being taken care of," Bill said.

Dan LaMagna could tell you that. His dad died from the disease. He now heads up the local chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, urging people not to avoid early warning signs like his dad did.

"Just thinking he was burning both ends of the candle — back pain, fatigue," LaMagna recalled.

"November is our month to raise awareness. Listen to your body. Don't ignore those symptoms. Let's get ahead of this early because we got to beat that low survival rate, 11 percent survival rate. We can do that through awareness."

That's a message former Scranton Mayor Jimmy Connors and his wife Susie can get behind. They lost Jimmy's sister Tina in 1994.

"She was only 43 years old, and at the time, the survival rate was only 5 percent. Now it's gone up to 11 percent, so we are making some strides," Susie said.

"We wanted to do something to honor her life. So Bill said, 'Come on over to Pappa's pizza.' We love the pizza here anyway!" Jimmy said.

The first year Pappa's held this fundraiser, it raised just under $300.

"It really grew from there. Now, we've donated over $132,000," Bill said.

All you have to do is order a pizza between noon and 5 p.m. on Sunday, and the owners will donate half of their sales to the cause.

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