I began running to help raise money for Multiple Myeloma research nearly 3 years ago in support of a dear family friend Anita. I never knew if my runs were really making a difference but I wanted to do what I could. This little known disease with NO CURE seemed to have little support for research. While I never thought about stopping I wondered why more was not being done. This year Anita introduced me to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). I only wish we had found them sooner.
Earlier this week Tani and I were invited as guests of the MMRF to their annual fundraising event by Alicia and Jane who head up the Marathon/Half Marthon Program. I don't know that we were expecting much going into this event, just another black tie fundraiser (we have been to so many). But since this is a cause we have been supporting for several years we thought it was important to go. So we did...and we are happy about it.
Scott Hamilton was the MC and did a great job. His dedication to cancer research is clear. It was the presentations of Kathy Giusti, Hoda Kotb and Boomer Esiason showed us and the other 1,100 people in attendance how relevant the MMRF is to its mission and those of many other foundations. First, as the largest fundraiser for Multiple Myeloma research they have raised $120 million and 93% of those funds are used for just that. The dedication of the MMRF and its supporters has led to great strides in extending the lives of those fighting and to one day finding a cure. More detail on results are here. In addition they consult with other foundations and share there findings which have benefited many other research programs.
Hoda who most of us probably know from NBC spoke candidly, with appropriate and necessary humor about her battle with Breast Cancer. From diagnosis, through her mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and enlightening encounter with a stranger on a plane (Ken) who helped her understand the importance of embracing this experience as part of who she is. Her thoughts on eliminating what does not matter in life was a nice touch and hysterical (referencing many things including her ex). You could feel her experience fill the room and it made us realize how important it is for celebrities to share these experiences with us all.
Which brings me to Boomer. His story of fate is inspiring and his honesty, passion and humor commanded the room's attention. We know of him as an NFL quarterback and knew something of his story with his son Gunnar's diagnosis years ago with Cystic Fibrosis. What we did not know was how generous he is of giving his time to many causes. While he is understandably dedicated to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis he was not there to self promote. Tani and I had great appreciation for his selfless support.
Kathy (Founder) who is being treated for Multiple Myeloma painted a picture we can't forget. She spoke of her to do list which includes many things all the way to her daughter's wedding someday. Many of her to dos have been done and there are still many to come as her list grows. It seems to me this list never ends, because as Kathy said you can never close the book on Multiple Myeloma. There is NO CURE in case you forgot.
Kathy, Hoda and Boomer...thanks for sharing, your courage is empowering.
We also want to thank Alicia and Jane for inviting us. The evening gave us hope and knowledge that our efforts are making a difference. We look forward to continuing to help MMRF through the Marathon/Half Marathon Program. The program guarantees entry to 100s of runners at various marathons around the country with a commitment to raise funds for research. There will be 104 such runners next Sunday at the ING NYC Marathon who raised $500,000 this year. We are setting up a cheering zone on the west side of 1st Avenue at 87th Street so come out and help support the runners who have worked so hard for this great cause.
If you are interested in other races there is also a Run Your Own Race Program where you can set up your own fundraiser through any race you choose as I did this year and will be doing again in September 2010.