Project Purple Program Director Chelsey Bunyer

When Chelsey Bunyer joined Project Purple in the role of Program Director in August, 2016, she quickly learned how expensive it is to battle cancer. “It was surprising to me to find out that insurance doesn’t cover everything and those costs really do add up quickly,” she explains. In her new role, she hopes to help as many pancreatic cancer patients as possible as administrator of the Patient Financial Aid program. In addition, Chelsey will be managing our running teams, helping our athletes reach their fundraising goals.

From L to R: Project Purple's Elli Erickson, Elizabeth Mauldin and Chelsey Bunyer
From L to R: Project Purple’s Elli Erickson, Elizabeth Mauldin and Chelsey Bunyer

Chelsey’s Family Impacted by Pancreatic Cancer

Chelsey’s first experience with pancreatic cancer came about when her grandmother was diagnosed with the illness. Chelsey was still in high school at the time, and did not completely understand the nature of the disease. She says, “I didn’t have a complete sense of what pancreatic cancer is all about. These patients are not able to work. It is out of the realm of possibility. I didn’t know how devastating the cancer was.” Chelsey remembers few details, but she knows that her grandmother passed away just a few weeks after she was diagnosed.

Work and Life Experience

Chelsey brings a great deal of experience as both a coach and athlete to Project Purple. Originally from a small town in Illinois, she played Division I basketball at Wagner College in Staten Island, NY. Chelsey served as the Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Colorado- Colorado Springs for two years. After an extremely successful coaching stint, she moved to Pennsylvania where she worked as a graduate assistant.

Chelsey decided to give living in Colorado another shot. She returned to the state in 2016, this time moving to Boulder. Not one to stay idle, Chelsey decided to do something many people could only dream of doing: She took a bike trip across the United States. “When I moved out to Colorado, I trained for three months and then did a cross-country bike trip,” Chelsey says. “I went with a friend I met online and we averaged 83 miles per day. I think that when you travel the country by bike, you take in so many details and see so many things you wouldn’t see any other way. I got to see these small towns and met a lot of interesting and kind people.”

Chelsey Joins Project Purple

Ultimately, Chelsey returned to the East Coast, taking her current position with Project Purple. She wanted to find a position she could be passionate about; something that was not a typical 9 to 5 job. Project Purple gave her the opportunity to use her skills to help others. As the administrator for the Patient Financial Aid program, Chelsey sees firsthand the financial difficulties many pancreatic cancer patients face. She explains, “What I have learned is that people who have pancreatic cancer, more often than not, really have trouble affording the simple cost of living. They are not working and they are draining their funds just to go through treatment.”

Chelsey also understands how important financial assistance is for these patients. “Any kind of help they can get for rent, car payments, and other expenses, is extremely helpful for them and helps them fight cancer.” Chelsey finds working with cancer patients very rewarding. “I feel like I am making an impact in some way, as small as it may be.”

Team Management

Chelsey is also transitioning into Project Purple’s team manager. She is providing support to the organization’s charity runners and has already been to Chicago, Des Moines and New York City to support the teams. She says, “I enjoy spending time with the runners at the races. It is pretty amazing to see these people of all shapes and sizes running, some of whom have never run a marathon before or maybe weren’t even into running at all. They do it for a cause they believe in and it is a really inspirational thing to be involved in.”

Chelsey is excited about her role with Project Purple as the organization grows and broadens its focus. She is proud to help both those who raise funds for the charity and those patients who need access to funds to pay their expenses. She looks forward to helping Project Purple as it continues to grow. “I know that we continue to increase the number of people we help through the PFA program each year. I really want to continue to develop our relationships with our runners and help grow the PFA program.”

To donate to Project Purple’s 50 in 50 campaign, click here:

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