Meet Maria Fundora. She’s a wife, mother, daughter, restaurateur, and in this case: the founder of Purple Pansies. The loss of her beloved mother, Iluminada Milian, led Maria to create Purple Pansies. Iluminada was the light in Maria’s family, and their family dynamic was forever changed after she passed away. Pancreatic cancer was the silent killer that lived within Iluminada for years before taking her life in 2007. 

Ever since her mothers passing, Maria searched for a way to honor her mother and spread awareness about pancreatic cancer. In 2009, her thoughts finally turned to action and she created Purple Pansies. Her goal is to spread awareness, fund research and clinical trials locally and nationally, and most importantly find an early detection test for pancreatic cancer that her mother never had. 

Maria and her parents moved from Cuba to Chicago in 1967. They came from humble beginnings. The result is Maria constantly giving back to the community and donating to as many charities as she can. Maria grew up watching her mother work hard everyday to reach her goals. She inherited the same work ethic and has since created a successful restaurant and nonprofit, all while raising a family. It seemed only fitting for Maria to create her own charity after all those years being involved in so many other ones. Purple Pansies was a double win for Maria because she also found the way to honor her mother that she had been searching for.

Maria’s close relationship with her mother was what drove her to not only start Purple Panises, but also to make it successful. She has a full time job of running Casa Nuova Italian Restaurant and being a mother. However, she always manages to find time for Purple Pansies and give 100% of herself to it. Maria Fundora is an inspiration to all, and she is a woman that her mother would be proud of.