MMRF to honor firefighters at tri-state 5K walk/run
Published 2:30 pm, Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation will honor Randy Wiebicke, a former firefighter who recently lost his battle with multiple myeloma at the 8th annual MMRF Race for Research: Tri-State 5K Walk/Run, June 12, at New Canaan High School in New Canaan. Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer, which Wiebicke likely developed as a result of his service at Ground Zero following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Wiebicke was a dedicated firefighter, who, like many other first responders, was off duty and not assigned to work on Sept. 11; however, Wiebicke raced to his firehouse, located just a few blocks from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, ready to rescue and help in any way that he could. Wiebicke remained at "the pit" for three consecutive days after 9/11. He continued working at ground zero for several months before he retired from the New York Fire Department in September 2002. In mid 2009, Randy was diagnosed with multiple myeloma at 52 years old. The disease typically affects individuals in their 60s and 70s. Wiebicke courageously fought the disease until passing away in March 2011.
"Randy lived in the spirit of what being a firefighter means. When others were in danger, running out of a burning building, he was there to run in," said Madeline Wiebicke, Randy's wife, who will accept the award on his behalf. "Last year, we held a fundraiser that we called `A night of Hope' at our local firehouse. Randy was so proud to be part of this fundraiser that donated $20,000 to the MMRF."
Mike Russo, one of Wiebicke's closest friends since they were teenagers, will attend his second MMRF Race for Research: Tri-State 5K Walk/Run this year in honor of Randy. Participating last year as an individual, Russo is looking forward to being a team captain for Team Wiebicke this year. Wiebicke had three families: his immediate family, his family of friends and his firefighter family. Team Wiebicke, which has a goal to raise $10,000, will consist of members from all three of Randy's families.
"We are hoping for a big turnout in honor of Randy, both in funds raised and people brought together," Russo said. "Randy did not die from multiple myeloma; he died battling against multiple myeloma. We are here to continue his fight and we are thankful for this opportunity to give back to the MMRF and the myeloma community."
Firemen from Wiebicke's firehouse will be joined at the MMRF Race for Research: Tri-State 5K Walk/Run by the local New Canaan and Darien firehouses. Mike Socci, a member of the New Canaan Fire Department, also served as a first responder at ground zero. Socci is looking forward to uniting with fellow firefighters in honor of Wiebicke and to raise funds for myeloma research. To date, no cause for multiple myeloma has been identified; however, some research has suggested possible associations with exposure to certain chemicals and radiation, a decline in the immune system, and specific occupations including firefighters. A 2009 study found an increase in risk of developing multiple myeloma among first responders who were at ground zero on and following 9/11.
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The MMRF has helped bring to market four new treatments that have helped to double the life expectancy for multiple myeloma patients. The four drugs the MMRF helped bring to market for multiple myeloma are now being used as treatments or tested in more than 30 other cancers.
Form a team for the MMRF Race for Research: Tri-State 5K Walk/Run. Register online by June 9 at www.themmrf.org/tristate5k. You can also register in person at the event. For more information, contact: email@example.com or 203-652-0238.
Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer. The five-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 38 percent, one of the lowest of all cancers. In 2010, more than 20,000 adults in the United States were estimated to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and approximately 11,000 people died from the disease.
Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation was established in 1998 as a nonprofit organization by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti, soon after Giusti's diagnosis with multiple myeloma. The mission of the MMRF is to relentlessly pursue innovative means that accelerate the development of next-generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure.
As the world's number one private funder of multiple myeloma research, the MMRF has raised $160 million since its inception to fund nearly 120 laboratories worldwide, including 70 new compounds and approaches in clinical trials and pre-clinical studies and has facilitated 30 clinical trials through its affiliate organization, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium. As exceptional stewards of its donor's investments, the MMRF consistently surpasses its peers in fiscal responsibility.
For more information about the MMRF, visit www.themmrf.org.