WESTFIELD, NJ – Runners and walkers alike will tie up their laces for a good cause Saturday at the Miracles for Myeloma 5K in Clark. The race aims to raise money for the International Myeloma Foundation in the fight against the incurable and often unfamiliar disease.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the blood. The disease is characterized by low blood counts, bone and calcium problems, infections, kidney problems, monoclonal gammopathy (many copies of the same antibody), light chain amyloidosis (abnormal protein build-up in organs) and solitary plasmacytomas (singular tumor often treated with radiation therapy), according to the American Cancer Society. The disease is currently incurable.
Miracles for Myeloma 5K Race Co-Founder Sheree Pask, who teaches at Presbyterian Nursery School and Kindergarten in Westfield, hopes to help change that.
“I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2007. This was a disease I had never even heard of, so it’s important to me that people learn what the disease is and how it affects those who are fighting it,” Pask said. “While I’m currently in remission, I still feel like I have to do something to help researchers find a cure. I feel empowered, and I have to make a difference.”
For the last five years, the Miracles for Myeloma 5K has been doing just that. According to Pask, every penny raised before, during and after the event goes directly towards the International Myeloma Foundation. In recent years, the funds raised went to provide grants to researchers in the field.
The event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 9:30 a.m. Race participants can check in at Oak Ridge Park in Clark starting at 8 a.m. Online registration is available through Sept. 19.
In celebration of the 5K's fifth year, there will be children’s activities, games and selfie photo frame opportunities. Whether attendees participate in the race/walk as a team or individuals, everyone is welcome, Pask said.
Donations can also be given in the form of purchasing a placard to be placed along the Remembrance Path – a section along the race course. Donors may choose to remember a loved one who has passed or to honor a loved one who is living with the incurable disease.
“There is just so much support around me as a survivor,” Pask said. “The community at Presbyterian Nursery School and Kindergarten has gone above and beyond, and I have only positive things to say about them. They have honored me in the past by donating a portion of their fundraiser total to the International Myeloma Foundation in my name.”
Pask went on to explain her connection to Gina Klemm, 5K co-founder and mother of a Presbyterian Nursery School and Kindergarten student, who also has a deep connection to the rare cancer.
“Gina lost her brother to multiple myeloma only 18 months after he was diagnosed,” Pask explained. “Once he was diagnosed, Gina and I grew closer and eventually decided to start up the 5K in his honor. We really just want to help others understand the impact that multiple myeloma has while we raise money to support researchers in finding a cure.”
For more information on the Miracles for Myeloma 5K or how to donate, visit the website at give.myeloma.org/miracles2017.