Westport family turns love of hiking into $50,000 for cancer research

Siblings Julianna Shmaruk, 21, and Ben Shmaruk, 23, have hiked and camped together, sometimes accompanied by their parents Dawn and Alan. Ben and Alan Shmaruk even scaled Mount Washington in New Hampshire when they were just 8 years old.

But in September 2019, Alan Shmaruk was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.

“It was just awful because pancreatic cancer has a pretty strong, bad reputation,” said Dawn Shmaruk. “We were devastated, but at the same time we gave it our all on the first day.”

Alan died in July but the siblings and Dawn Shmaruk said he had always been positive during treatments.

This month they donated $50,000 to the Norwalk Hospital Foundation, raised from a love of Alan and Ben Shmaruk’s: hiking.

In March 2021, the Shmaruk family founded PCT4PC – which means Pacific Crest Trail for Pancreatic Cancer – when Ben Shmaruk traveled 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada while raising money for early research into pancreatic cancer honoring Alan Shmaruk.