Meet Our Founder
Ben founded Project Periwinkle in 2015 in memory of his cousin, Michon Runyon, who passed away from stomach cancer in July of 2014, and currently serves as the president of the organization and the chairman of its Board of Directors. He felt the need to do something that would help others and work toward a world where no one would be affected by this disease or cancer as a whole.
While still attending Saint Louis University for undergrad, Ben worked to create and establish this organization and brought it to the national stage, creating a presence in every state and later touching an audience internationally. Within six months of our launch, we made a financial contribution to Saint Louis University Cancer Center, which established the Project Periwinkle Gastric Cancer Research Fund. Since then, we have continued to grow and contribute to a number of other centers and programs in the United States.
Creating an organization that funds research for cancer and doing so in a way that makes the biggest impact possible was at the forefront of the decision to launch the foundation. Every dollar raised goes toward the organization’s work, meaning no one involved accepts a salary or compensation, and the work of the foundation is done in the most fiscally responsible way possible. This is what sets us apart from other non-profits, and it is a factor Ben has been set on since Day 1.
Every year, tens of thousands of people are diagnosed with stomach cancer and millions more with other cancers . For me, bringing awareness to this disease and funding research that will one day find a cure is something that I hold close to my heart. In 2013, my family was touched by it in a way that forever has changed me. My cousin, Michon, was diagnosed with stomach cancer and she fought with grace, courage, strength, and a heart that is rarely replicated. She passed away a year later in the summer of 2014. While grieving, I realized when something unfortunate happens, we can either let it take hold of us, or we can do something to change it. While still in my undergraduate education at Saint Louis University, and in the midsts of my junior year, I started this foundation in the hopes of changing the status quo of a world where cancer is an everyday thing and countless people are being affected by it. I can never do anything to get her back, but we can do everything we can to make sure cancer becomes a word that is only part of the history books. Since we launched, cancer has continued to touch my life, and as time goes on, our work is becoming more and more important.
Since Project Periwinkle's inception, we have had the opportunity to provide financial support to three cancer centers in the United States. The first in October of 2015, just five months after we launched, to the Saint Louis University Cancer Center in St. Louis, MO, second in February of 2018, to the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and third in January of 2019 to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. The research that we are supporting will hopefully one day lead to a cure for not just stomach cancer, but all cancer. I started this organization to help others and better our world, and that is why I decided that this organization would be 100% volunteer based, and nobody, including myself should accept compensation for their work. That is what charity is all about--helping others and giving back in the biggest way possible.
Full heartily, I believe that though we are put in this world, we can have a say in how life turns out. We don’t have to accept what is, and we can start with dreams of what can be, working to turn those dreams into reality. WE can fund research. WE can find a cure. WE can end this fight and change the world, giving those diagnosed with stomach cancer not just hope, but a second chance at life. Please take the time to explore our website and learn more about us. If you can, please donate so our work can continue, and if you cannot, please at the very least, tell others about us and our work. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support.
Founder, President, Chairman