Name: John DeBaun
Age: 70
Hometown: Brookfield, WI
Not long after my brother Bob was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2002 he became a strong supporter of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and their annual fundraising dinners. My wife Gayle and I — and sons, Nate and Matt, on occasion — attended the MMRF dinners and walks in the Chicago area with Bob and his wife, Jane, their kids, Liz and Blake, and many of Bob's co-workers and friends. Because of a snowstorm we missed the MMRF dinner at which Bob spoke, but several years later we had the opportunity to hear him speak in the Milwaukee area — a wonderful memory. When he lost his battle at the end of 2010 at the age of 60, it was a huge loss for all of us.
Bob, our middle brother Tom, and I grew up living at many different addresses in Kansas, Missouri, Texas and suburban Chicago. By the time Dad and Mom finally chose Osage City, Kansas, as the place to settle, I was in college, but Tom and Bob were still at home. As brothers, we shared the challenges and many memories of all the places we lived. Our folks made sure we completed college, and each of us served in the military during the Vietnam era.
For more than 40 years I worked as a newspaper editor and writer. Since retiring in 2006, I have been through a mild heart attack and appendiceal cancer and chemotherapy, but have recovered well from both. In retirement, I have remained active by working at our family tree farm in central Wisconsin.
In January, I got an email about the Mount Fuji climb, saying there were just a few spots left on the team. I was stationed in Japan for two years with the Navy and developed lifelong interest in the country, so I decided to apply. To my surprise I was accepted. This climb is my way of saying "thanks" to Bob for all he did for so many people, and to support Bob's dedication to finding a cure for multiple myeloma.
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