Over the past week or so, I’ve been writing about the Empire State Building Run-Up. I’m running it for a lot of reasons – it’s a challenge, it’s exciting, and it’s a bucket list item – not a lot of people get a chance to do it, so when the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance.
There is a bigger reason that I’m doing it, however. I’m supporting the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). Through a tremendous network of supporters, focused effort and continued research, they have helped improve and extend the lives of patients. They have a single-minded focus. They are tirelessly pursuing means to accelerate development of next-generation treatments, and their results have been nothing short of phenomenal. They have helped four new treatments get approved in record time, and those drugs are now being used to treat 19 other cancers.
I’m doing this for another reason, one more personal. I’m joining the fight in support of my high school buddy Jeff Goad. Jeff sat next to me in band, and we were known as better comedians than musicians. Our teacher had the patience of Job in dealing with our shenanigans…he would occasionally glance up, raising one Spock-like eyebrow in our direction, letting us know we’d been busted…..but that was all part of growing up.
Over time, we went on to different schools, graduated, went on to college, started careers and families…but with the advent of Facebook and other social media tools, I got back in touch with Jeff’s brother, David. We began to share details of our lives, and I found out about David’s new-found athletic endeavors – as we all approached 50, David had suddenly taken up endurance sports, running a marathon, doing a triathlon, and doing all sorts of stunts to raise money for an organization called the MMRF. I came to find out that the reason why is that his brother Jeff had developed multiple myeloma. After just a few conversations with David, I understood how important this fight was….and I contributed to a couple of his fund-raising efforts.
As I read more about Jeff’s fight, the story became even more real, and more personal. Jeff was diagnosed in 2010, finding out after a softball injury. While I was a casual athlete in high school, Jeff lived for sports. He was a star football player at my high school, and he continued to be athletic all through college in beyond. Prior to his diagnosis, he had run 9 marathons and participated in grueling sailing competitions….but this discovery brought everything to a screeching halt. Now it wasn’t a matter of how soon he’d get back to playing softball……it was a moment where everything else had to be put aside to focus on the fight against the disease.
After a full year of chemo and two stem cell transplants, Jeff went from being a true athlete, to barely walking around the block….but Jeff knew that making his life better depended on starting from where he was, and building from there. As his condition improved, he slowly built his strength and endurance. His first major post-treatment goal was to hike in the Grand Canyon – down and out of its South rim at 9.5 miles each way, braving a 5,000 foot change in elevation and 100 degree temperatures.
Doing the hike gave Jeff the confidence that he could do even more. Since then, Jeff has completed the Chicago Marathon in 2011, and the New York Marathon in 2013. At this stage, while Jeff may consider this living a ‘normal’ life, I think it’s an exceptional one – and it’s inspired me to join in the fight. I’m training hard to get ready for the ESB Run-Up, and doing everything I can to get this story out.
How can you help?
1) By making a donation to the MMRF through my ESB Run-up page. All donations are welcome – and your donation may help someone else who’s been on the fence. Since over 90% of funds raised go directly to research and programs, you can make an impact in the fight.
I am very appreciative of any donations, but even more thankful to spread the MMRF story, and how people can help the cause. I want YOU to join the fight by supporting the MMRF, and my climb to the top of the Empire State Building. Join me in the fight by making a donation to MMRF.