Nancy Amato, who passed away in 2006 after an extended battle with pancreatic cancer, was known as "Pants" because she always wore the pants in the family.

In her memory, son Patrick Amato founded Pants Off Racing, an all-volunteer organization that supports families impacted by pancreatic cancer.

Pants Off Racing holds its first race in Hermosa Beach on March 30, at 2 p.m. on the sand north of the Hermosa Beach pier.

The beach run, dubbed "Sandy Saute" is a less formal race than others staged by the organization in the Calabasas area. 

Nancy's sister-in-law, also a Nancy, is “Aunt Pants." She said the nonprofit is happy to have a fundraiser race closer to home.

“Our core group of people, the runners and the volunteers, many come from the west side or the South Bay, so Calabassas can be difficult to get to," said Nancy. "And so many people know us and love us, and we wanted to share this fun fundraising event here.”

Nancy explained Pants Off Racing began when her nephew Patrick competed in the Ironman triathlon.

"When (his mom) was first diagnosed, (Patrick) would write ‘Nancy Pants’ on his knuckles and even on a headband, and that felt empowering and good, he said. So eventually, because they were so supported by other people during Nancy’s diagnosis, they wanted to pay that support forward.”

Today, the organization raises money with a focus on fun, always keeping things as lighthearted as possible, despite the difficult outcome of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. The group has helped more than 100 families, said Nancy, who added every dollar raised goes directly to the families they assist.

“We have families who we’ve helped for nine years,” Nancy said.  “One family who lives in Santa Monica, we take the boys out rock climbing and fishing to help a single mom. We have families that have essentially joined our families who live in California, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. We take care of them all. We call this our ‘Century Club.’”

Organizers are keeping the entry fees low to encourage families to participate, said Nancy. The cost to enter is $25.

After the race, there will be an after-party at American Junkie with a silent auction. Prizes will be given for racers with the best costume, and top finishers in different age groups. American Junkie will donate a portion of the proceeds from the no-host food and drinks to POR.

And, about that unusual "pants off" moniker?

It's just something fun to grab attention, according to Nancy.

“As Patrick would say, it’s more fun to run with your pants off. We are really about having fun while we do this.”

For more information, and to register for the race, visit

Contact Lisa Jacobs or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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