Giving Back

Loved Ones Honored at Miracles for Myeloma 5K in Clark

Coustan family and friends at Miracles for Myeloma event 2014. Credits: Helene Coustan

CLARK, NJ – Walkers and runners interested in helping to raise money for multiple myeloma research are encouraged to sign up for the third annual Miracles for Myeloma 5K in Oak Ridge Park in Clark on Sept. 26.

“Multiple myeloma is not a widely known cancer. Usually people become aware of the disease when it affects your life and your family’s lives,” said Gina Klemm of Westfield, who helped establish the race in Clark with Ron and Sheree Pask and whose brother, Frank Guarino, died of the disease in 2012.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell. According to the walk’s website, there is currently no cure for multiple myeloma.

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Helene Coustan, a Westfield resident whose husband, Brad, died of multiple myeloma in June after a two-and-a half year fight, plans to participate in Miracles for Myeloma with her two children.

Through his blog, Brad Coustan documented his plight with multiple myeloma, mentored other patients and inspired hundreds of readers to “find a silver lining in every day,” Helene Coustan said. Brad worked throughout his treatment and hosted two annual golf outings and a movie night raise funds to fight the disease.

“He decided that he wanted to make a difference and tried to beat cancer how he lived,” said Coustan. “He left his impact on so many and what he gave our family and the community we will carry on forever.”

Sheree Pask of Clark is a preschool teacher at the Presbyterian Nursery School in Westfield who is in near complete remission from multiple myeloma following chemotherapy treatments and two stem cell transplants. She is pleased that a group of teachers from her school have formed a team to take part in the race.

Pask got to know Brad Coustan through her son, Matt, who is a teacher at Franklin Elementary School, where he taught Coustan’s daughter. Sheree and Brad struck up a friendship and supported each other in their fight against multiple myeloma.

“We were always there for each other, and needless to say, my heart ached terribly when he lost his battle that we both tried to fight,” said Pask.

Miracles for Myeloma in Clark has grown steadily since it began in 2013, when about 500 people registered for the race and raised about $50,000 for the International Myeloma Foundation. In 2014, the race drew about 750 participants and raised roughly $125,000 for the IMF.

In December, Klemm and her husband traveled to San Francisco with the Pasks to present two research doctors with a grant each raised from the 2014 event.

“What a wonderful feeling to have been there in person and shake the hands of those people who are trying to help find a cure,” Pask recalled.

Registration fees for adults is $30 until Sept. 1, while the fee for children 12 and under is $20. To sign up, click here. Participants and those interested in honoring a loved one who has suffered from multiple myeloma can purchase a laminated placard to line a remembrance path in the park. The 5K is held in conjunction with the International Myeloma Foundation.

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