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Liz Tatarka, right, with her late father, Michael David Garcia, a Larchmont police captain. Photo Credit: Liz Tatarka
Liz Tatarka [second from left] of New Rochelle with Team "Mike" at The Lustgarten Foundation’s Westchester Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk at Rye Playland Park. Photo Credit: Ben Asen

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- New Rochelle resident Liz Tatarka will honor her father by joining more than 1,000 Westchester and surrounding area residents at The Lustgarten Foundation’s seventh annual Westchester Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk on Sunday, April 17 at Rye Playland.

The Lustgarten Foundation is the nation’s largest private foundation dedicated to funding pancreatic cancer research. And 100 percent of every dollar that Tatarka and her fellow walkers raise will go directly to pancreatic cancer research.

Tatarka's father, Michael David Garcia, served on the Larchmont Police Force for 37 years, reaching the level of captain. In all that time, he never took a sick day. Tatarka said she thought of him as invincible, both as a police officer and as a loving father.

Yet in August 2007, when Garcia began to feel ill, what doctors at first thought were heart problems, turned out to be pancreatic cancer. Though the family was told he might only have two to three months to live, Garcia opted for aggressive treatment and managed to battle the disease for one year before passing away in August 2008.

After Tatarka's mother found out about the Foundation's Westchester Walk, their family immediately registered as Team "Mike," determined to keep his memory alive. They have been walking every year since.

Tatarka believes that participating in the walk is an uplifting way to honor her father's memory. And for her, it is also fulfilling to know that 100 percent of all money she raises goes directly to pancreatic cancer research.

“It is so moving to know that despite losing her father to pancreatic cancer, Liz is driven to make a difference for others in the fight against this deadly disease,” said Lustgarten Foundation Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Kerri Kaplan. "We hope many more will join us to help change the grim facts about pancreatic cancer through research. The walk is an important and hopeful step in the right direction."

The walk begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 17, with registration starting at 8:00 a.m. For more information about the walk or to register, go to

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