Five years ago I started on a journey that has taken me hundreds of miles, across dirt and pavement, all in the name of finding a cure for blood cancers. Over the course of the next few months I’ll be adding water to that list.
It all started back in 2006 with a desire to get back into running while doing something for a worthy cause. I signed up for a marathon through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program. Initially I didn’t have a connection to blood cancer, but it soon became personal. Shortly after I signed up I learned one of my wife’s grandmothers Dorothy Andrews had passed away due to a blood cancer. The other, Barbara Pugsley, was diagnosed during my training and passed away 6 weeks after the marathon. While pounding the pavement for 5 months (over 900 miles!) I raised over $3000 to go toward research to find a cure for blood cancer. If you helped me reach that goal, thank you.
Two years later in 2008 I decided it was time to fundraise again and signed up for the Team in Training hike program. Within the first week I learned that a college friend, Anil Arora, had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Now this was getting really personal. I hiked over 100 miles during the training, culminating in a 13-hour, 16-mile roundtrip hike to the top of Half Dome (4800 ft. elevation change) in Yosemite National Park. I raised over $5000. If you helped me reach that goal, again, thank you.
For the past two years I have continued to contribute my time and passion for hiking to Team in Training as a coach for the hike program. Though I’ve spared you the requests for donations over the past 3 seasons, I’ve spent many hours on the trails whipping participants into shape and crafting weekly messages covering various training topics. But I can’t complain. It’s a great organization to be involved in and I know the lives of thousands of people affected by blood cancer are all better off for it. Nearly 50% of all cancer drugs approved by the FDA during the past decade were for blood cancers. And they are helping other patients as well. Five of those drugs have been approved for patients with solid tumors and others are being tested for other indications. Survival rates for children with leukemia have improved from 3% 40 years ago to 90% today; Hodgkin lymphoma patient survival rates have more than doubled to 88% since the 1960s. And the survival rate for myeloma patients tripled in past decade.
Here it is almost 2012 and I figure it is time to earn my triple crown with a new event: St. Anthony’s triathlon in St. Petersburg, FL. I will be spending next 5 months swimming, biking, running and fundraising in memory of Dorothy and Barbara and in honor of Anil. My goal is to not only cross that finish line 51.5 km later (1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run, a.k.a. “olympic distance”) with flying colors, but to also beat my fundraising PR from years past. It’s going to take a lot of sweat, discipline, and support and compassion from friends and family like you.
Please help me reach my goal by making a donation today (it’s tax deductable!). Whether it’s $5, $51.50, or $500, every single penny helps. LLS prides itself in ensuring 75-76% of every dollar contributed goes toward the cause; the vast majority goes to funding research projects happening locally at the University of Michigan. I won’t complain if you send a few words of encouragement my way either.