A fundraising hike in The Last Frontier state will include multiple myeloma patients, caregivers, family members and friends. The hike will begin in the town of Homer, which is referred to as being located at “The End of the Road,” and wend through terrain that ranges from temperate rain forests to glaciers.
The effort will benefit Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma (MM4MM), a joint effort between the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and CURE Media Group.
The 12-person team was scheduled to hike through the Alaska-Kenai Peninsula between Aug. 16-21. The effort is being sponsored by Cambridge, Mass-based biotech firm Sanofi Genzyme. MM4MM has coordinated at least two such hikes a year since its first event in 2016. Since its inception, the program has raised more than $3 million for the MMRF. Funds are used to research precision treatments for the white blood cell-based cancer.
The Alaska adventure will include five individuals with multiple myeloma, including:
- Lynn Cella, who was diagnosed in 2014 and is currently in remission.
- JP Kealy, who was also diagnosed in 2014 and is making his third MM4MM trek.
- Terry King, who was diagnosed with smoldering – asymptomatic – multiple myeloma in 2019 and currently exhibits no signs of the disease and is receiving no medication.
- Michael Mankowich, who was diagnosed in February 2017. Mankowich, a wrestler, jokes about potentially engaging a grizzly bear during the hike.
- Suzanne Wolfrom, who was diagnosed three years ago after just retiring from her career. Wolfrom is also a breast cancer survivor.
“As a patient focused organization, the MMRF stands together with those who are battling multiple myeloma – patients, families, physicians, researchers, and our partners,” MMRF President and CEO Michael Andreini said in a statement. “This team represents a microcosm of our community and demonstrates that together, we can move mountains in our shared pursuit of a cure for each patient.”
The team will also include: nurse practitioner Donna Catamero; April Cooper, who is sojourning in honor of her mother, Brenda, who died in 2017; Clayton Happeney, who is making the trek in honor of his father, a multiple myeloma patient; Mitch Happeney, Clayton’s brother and co-honorer of his father; MMRF Director, Events & Partnerships Jane Hoffman; Annamarie Kealy, wife and caregiver to JP Kealy; Kristin Lee, a friend of April and Brenda Cooper; and mountaineer and outdoorsman Marty Murphy.
“This program is truly such a powerful and life-changing experience for every hiker, and we look forward to continuing our support to help raise awareness and critical funds for multiple myeloma research,” MJH Life Sciences President and CEO Mike Hennessy Jr. said in a statement. MJH is the parent company of CURE Media Group.