For those of you who don’t know, my relationship with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society goes way back. For the last decade, I’ve coached LLS’s Team In Training Boston Marathon Team. During that time, we raised over 9 million dollars, and I had the privilege of helping hundreds of runners to the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It was an incredible 10 years and we made a lot of progress towards finding a cure for blood cancers. But unfortunately, after all those years, all those dollars, and all those miles run, we still do not have a cure.
Which brings me where I am today. Instead of coaching the Boston Marathon Team this year (I moved to Colorado last June), I will be fundraising with the LLS’s Man & Woman of the Year campaign. It’s a 10-week campaign with a simple goal: to raise as much money as humanly possible for LLS. The truth of the matter is that the dollars we are about raise are impactful. It will go towards funding research, helping those currently in treatment, and even the families who support those in treatment.
It may seem like a long road ahead. A "cure" may seem far out of reach at times. But I've seen the difference this money can make first hand. The idea of cure isn’t out of reach and it’s something that we could fund/find through each dollar raised.
A cornerstone of our Boston Marathon Team practice were the “mission moments” we had each week. Every week, a different team member would volunteer to tell their story and why they were running and fundraising for LLS. In the beginning of my coaching career, all of those mission moments had not-so-happy endings. Tales of heartbreak and lost family and friends, spurred us on and kept us moving forward. But as time went on, the endings of these stories changed. Hope increased and so did the number of remissions. Today, there are a lot more happy endings. There's a lot more hope. We've already made so much progress. But it still isn't enough. We're not there just yet. But maybe over the next few years, we can be.
On a more personal level I'd like to share my "mission moment" with you - my “why”. Over the past ten years I've met a lot of incredible people through LLS, many of whom have become my closest friends. They are my extended family and they inspire me every day. There are three who I'd like to dedicate this campaign to. They've changed my life in incredible ways, and I'm doing this for them and because of them.
Damian & Leslie Bailey:
In late July of 2010 Damian was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. A little more than two weeks later, four days after the birth of his first child, he started his cancer fight. After eight chemotherapy and seventeen radiation treatments, he is in remission. His wife, Leslie, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in February of 2013, one month to the day after the birth of their daughter. Six months and 12 rounds of chemotherapy later, Leslie is in remission. Complications have occurred along the way. But they are incredibly lucky to have been diagnosed with Hodgkin's as it is one of the most treatable forms of cancer today, with a five-year survival rate of over 86% for adults. Prior to 1980, the five-year survival rate for Hodgkin’s survivors was around 40%. Thanks in part to funding for blood cancer research from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; their cancer has a tested and proven treatment program.
I met Damian and Leslie through the Boston Marathon Team In Training Program. Some of my fondest recent Boston memories are of hang time with Damian & Leslie. Sitting around their kitchen island, enjoying beverages and telling stories while listening to 90’s music… And as sad as it is to think about it, I may not have those memories without the funds raised by LLS.
I don’t think there are many families or individuals who could deal with what they’ve been faced with; a seemingly impossible situation. They are two of the strongest people I know. They are strong together and they are strong as individuals. As strong as they are, they shouldn’t have to be. More dollars, means improved detection and treatment.
I’m proud to have them as close friends. But most importantly, I feel lucky, grateful and fortunate to have them in my life. Thanks in part to the dollars raised through LLS. Progress… but not all stories are like theirs.
Fulvio was a stallion of a marathon runner. He could light up any room, even the darkest, and his smile and spirit were infectious. He was an amazing friend whose love overflowed with every hug he gave and every kiss he blew. He was the Italian Stallion and forever will be. Most importantly, Fulvio dedicated year after year after year to raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. There are two ways to run the Boston Marathon. As a qualified runner or as a charity runner. Qualified runners do not need to fundraise and can run the race on their own. Fulvio was a qualified runner and he came back every year to raise over $10K each year.
I don’t think words can accurately describe Fulvio and his presence. But man, it was special. Writing this my eyes and heart swell with extreme joy and extreme sadness all at once. Unfortunately on October 1st 2012 Fulvio passed away suddenly. And while he did not pass from a blood cancer, I dedicate this campaign to him and his wife Rita and their family. Fulvio lives on in our spirit and our actions each day. I think about him every day during each run and I know he wouldn’t have stopped raising money without a cure… so let’s do this!
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be surrounded with like-minded people. People that want to give back. People that have the drive to find a cure. If you’re reading this, if you’ve forwarded this page, and if you’ve donated… you are one of these people. YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE far larger than you can see. Much more to come on the impact of these dollars, but thank you for taking the time to read, donate and share this link. The day we no longer need raise money for this, will be a good one. Until that time comes, every dollar matters.