DENVER (KDVR) — March is Women’s History Month and we’re taking the whole month to honor remarkable women right here in Denver.
One of our finalists, the very first Mayor of Castle Pines, Maureen Shul. Her impact is far reaching and goes well beyond the title of Mayor. Her life work is fueled by hardship and tragedy and she’s somehow managed to turn it into something so much more.
At the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, researchers are working tirelessly to develop new treatments, meticulously and methodically trying to crack the code to cure pancreatic cancer.
“Science is hard. It’s a long journey. There’s a lot of failures. You have to keep going and fighting the fight and keep your eye on the mission,” said Dr. Sana Karam, an Associate Professor of Radiation and Oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
It’s a mission that almost came to screeching halt a few years ago. The lab was running out of money and in danger of shutting down, until this remarkable woman, Maureen Shul, showed up to save the day, and to save the lab.
“I almost lost my lab a few years ago, and that’s how I bumped into Maureen. I feel very fortunate to have our paths of life-and our journey of life cross,” Dr. Karam added.
The support she’s talking about comes from “Wings of Hope,” a non-profit Maureen founded back in 2012. When she started it back in 2012 Maureen admits she had no clue how to get started.
“I had no idea about running a non profit but I thought what’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work—I’ll just fire myself. But it just worked. So many people are being touched by this disease that you don’t hear about or read about,” Shul said.
It hits home for Maureen too. In 2010, her oldest brother Victor and her mother Blanche passed away from pancreatic cancer, both dying within months of each other, which is why Maureen’s so committed to this cause.
“I think the most healing part has been—two things; Work with the doctors and see what’s happening in terms of research and also meet so many patients that have gone through this; knowing what they’re going through and being able to help in any way I can,” Shul said.
Maureen’s good deeds and accolades don’t stop there, she’s also worked alongside Colorado state lawmakers to bring ‘Project Lifesaver’ to Colorado. That organization equips Alzheimer’s patients with a GPS tracking device to keep them from wandering off.
Drawing again from her own personal experience to give back to others. It’s something that keeps her going.
“No two people go through grief in the same way. Everyone has to find their own way. There’s no right way, there’s no wrong way. There’s no five steps, there’s no ten steps. You make it through the best way you possibly can,” Shul said.
While honoring the legacy of her loved ones, she’s in the midst of building a legacy of her own.
“I really can’t think of anyone else– man or woman—more deserving of this award. She is inspirational and she makes me want to do the work,” added Dr. Karam.
To date, Maureen’s raised over one million dollars for pancreatic cancer research. “Wings of Hope” issues annual grant funding to keep labs like Dr. Karam’s up and running.
Maureen is the second of four nominees. The final two will air March 23rd & March 30th.