Last August, just before her wedding, Valerie Brosdal, 53, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Having always lived a healthy lifestyle and not smoking a day in her life, it was a diagnosis that shook her and her soon-to-be husband Ralph Kapostins’ world.

During the months following her diagnosis, Valerie received immunotherapy infusion treatments, as part of a clinical research trial at the University of California Cancer Center. It was a difficult time that sent Valerie into a “very dark place”.


Ralph & Valerie

Trying to lift her spirits, Ralph took her for a pedicure. When it came to choosing a polish color, Valerie chose her favorite color – purple. In the hopes of making his wife laugh, he decided to paint his toes with purple too.

And according to Ralph, it seemed to do the trick!

Wanting to share the funny moment with friends, Ralph posted a picture of their matching toes on Facebook. That was just the beginning of the awesomeness that was to come.

Friends shared the photo, and others started painting their toes purple and sending Valerie pics. Then strangers got in on it. Valerie started receiving photos from people all over the world, and the hashtag #PurpleToes started to trend on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

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Ralph’s simple gesture quickly turned into a fundraising campaign, now called The Purple Toes Campaign. With the help of friends the campaign has raised more than $12,000 with the money being donated to Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

Even the nail polish company OPI has gotten involved. For donations of $25 or more made to the campaign, donors will receive a bottle of OPI’s Purple with a Purpose color, which is being generously donated by the beauty brand.

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What started as a small gesture of love from a husband to his wife has turned into a something so much more, helping so many others. Valerie and Ralph remain committed to spreading the word about the value of early detection of lung cancer, particularly in people who have never smoked, like Valerie.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Donate to the campaign
  • Submit a photo of your purple toes to Photo will be included in the living mural that is being created by Ralph, Valerie’s husband.
  • Go viral by joining the #purpletoes conversation and sharing your photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to show your support.
  • Follow Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) on Facebook as well as Twitter @End_Lung_Cancer to learn more about the fight against lung cancer.
  • Get the word out to family, friends, co-workers and others to participate.
  • Ask your nail and hair salon(s) to post the Purple Toes Campaign Flyer so their clients can participate.
  • Host a Purple Toes Party and paint everyone’s toes purple – women, men and even pets! Each bottle of Purple with a Purpose will polish approximately 45 sets of toes. Send in the pics!