Kelley M. Ward
Kelley M. Ward

The Impact of Our Upcoming Climb
Friday, February 10

For a year, we’ve been preparing for our endeavor to Mt. Kilimanjaro, and it’s fast approaching now. As we each put the final touches on our packing, weigh our bags and mentally prepare for the journey ahead, we never for a moment forget WHY we are doing this. This past week we got an all too real reminder…

Team member and patient Mark Herkert had to break the sad news to the team that he is unable to join us in Africa for the climb. Mark’s myeloma had stopped responding to his last two treatment regimens but thankfully because of the research done by the MMRF and our partners there was another option available for him. After some long-awaited test results, Mark had finally heard the words he’s been hoping for since his diagnosis 6 ½ years ago – zero M-spike – he is in “remission” for the first time! Although incredibly joyous news, Mark’s immune system has taken a significant blow and that is what has sidelined him for the time being. Travel to a third world country plus 8 grueling days of climbing pose too many health risks at this time which led to this very difficult but smart decision for Mark. The entire team is rallying around our beloved teammate Mark and we look forward to having his support from afar while we carry on in his honor and routing for him in 2018 when he joins the Everest Base Camp team.

Mark’s journey with this disease resembles so many others’ who are battling multiple myeloma and in need of new treatment options. A mere 15 months ago this new therapy he is responding to was not available to patients but due to the disruptive approach of the MMRF and our relentless mission to bring clinical trials and treatments to patients faster, patients like Mark have options. The MMRF has the only end-to-end Precision Medicine Model which brings the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.  These treatments include not only genomic/targeted base therapies but immune therapies as well. Myeloma is very diverse disease and we need data on every signal patient to find the right path and treatment sequence for all.  None of this would be possible without funding.

Together this team has far surpassed the goal set for us a year ago of $160,000 and have currently raised almost $235,000. We all have our eyes set on raising at least $250,000 but none of us want to stop there! Each person on this team is either personally battling this disease or knows and loves someone dearly who is or has lost their battle with myeloma. THIS IS PERSONAL.

We want to eradicate this disease – for our team members whose determination is enough to motivate any of us to keep moving forward on the trail in the pitch-black of summit night, and for our loved ones who have all provided us with an overwhelming amount of emotional and mental support and inspiration. We each have so many supporters who have helped us reach a goal of raising at least $10,000. Together, as climbers and supporters, we have built so much more awareness about myeloma and the life-saving work of the MMRF. We are ready to bring our mission half way around the world to the very top of Africa. We will be carrying  157 names of cancer patients in our hearts and minds as we climb – and on a banner that we will help us keep moving forward towards the summit, inspiring us along the way and picking us up when we’re down on our toughest parts of the journey to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
THANK YOU to all of our supporters, family, friends, and the patients that inspire us each and every day. We look forward to proudly taking on Mt. Kilimanjaro in your honor.
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