Project Purple Commits $75,000 to Support Hartford Hospital’s Pancreatic Cancer Program

Sitting in a cancer treatment center watching patients walk in and out of the lobby without a hand to hold or their own ride home made a lasting impact on Dino Verrelli.

In 2008, when his father Giovanni was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his family immediately stepped into action by providing the support system and transportation he needed as he sought treatment and began his fight against the disease.

“When my dad was diagnosed, I decided with my family that I would chauffeur him to all of his appointments,” shares Verrelli. “It helped me see things through a different lens. We didn’t have financial or insurance issues to worry about—but we saw others going through challenges. I saw first-hand the financial burden placed on other families and it was glaring.”

Following a long and courageous battle, Giovanni sadly passed in 2011. Before his father’s death, Verrelli made him a promise that they would never give up on defeating pancreatic cancer—and it’s a promise upheld through Project Purple.

Founded by Verrelli, Project Purple is a Connecticut-based non-profit organization that raises awareness of pancreatic cancer, supports sick patients and their families, and funds research efforts to improve patient outcomes and ultimately defeat pancreatic cancer.

“Our goal is to have a world without pancreatic cancer, that’s why we fund research and early detection awareness efforts,” shares Verrelli. “Early detection is so critical—we have to amplify the importance of identifying this silent disease. We also helped almost 170 families last year through financial assistance. We want these people focused on their loved ones and getting better and not stressing about their utilities or paying a copay or medical bill.”

In 2023, Project Purple committed $75,000 to create the Project Purple Pancreatic Cancer Fund at Hartford Hospital, which will support the hospital’s pancreatic cancer program under the direction of Bret Schipper, MD, FACS, CPE, Chief of Surgical Oncology and Director of Oncologic Surgery for the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital.

“We want to work with the best and what’s happening at Hartford Hospital is pretty amazing,” says Verrelli. “To be impactful, you need to be out in the community and working with patients that need your support. Hartford Hospital and Hartford HealthCare are everywhere, providing access to quality care in critical markets, and not just to a select few. Aligning ourselves with a premier cancer healthcare group such as this is going to help more people in a positive way.”

“We are very excited to partner clinically with Project Purple, an organization committed to leading the fight to help battle pancreatic cancer on many fronts—including donating to patients and families who need financial support and funding major academic centers that are working on the latest advancements in treatment,” shared Dr. Schipper. “Without these funds, research to find a cure is not possible. On behalf of my colleagues and the patients at Hartford HealthCare who will benefit from Project Purple’s generous donation, we thank them for their continued focus and determination to raise funds and awareness to help battle this terrible disease.”

“Dino’s story and Project Purple’s mission are both so inspiring and we’re thrilled to partner with them as we endeavor to provide high-quality, equitable care and assistance to our patients and their families both inside and outside of Hartford Hospital,” shared Lynn B. Rossini, VP of Philanthropy at Hartford Hospital. “We thank Project Purple for their good works and commitment to improving the lives of cancer patients everywhere through support, hope, and compassion.”

You can learn more about Project Purple by visiting their website at

Learn about the different ways you can give and support Hartford Hospital by visiting our Ways to Give webpage.