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Purple Toes campaign fights back against lung cancer

(CNN) -- What started out as a simple gesture by a man who wanted to lighten his wife's mood during her battle with cancer has become something of a movement.

And it all began with a purple pedicure.

Valerie Brosdal, 53, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer back in August.

Some days are better than others during chemotherapy. One day, when she was getting a pedicure, her husband Ralph Kapostins had a spontaneous idea to make her smile, according to the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

Brosdal was having her toe nails painted purple, her favorite color. Kapostins decided to join her.

The photographer took a picture of both of their toes and asked others to join in.

Soon, social media caught on, and The Purple Toes Campaign, Smiles for Val was born. Hundreds of pictures flooded in -- even some with purple pet toenails.

The campaign is now a fundraiser for lung cancer research with the money going to the Addario foundation, which posted the pictures to its Facebook page. More than $12,000 has been raised.

The outpouring of support has touched the couple.

The pictures include lot of purple toes, of course. But some have taken pictures of their toes next to a photograph of a loved one who has died from lung cancer.

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