FOR THE FOUNDATION: Missy Bowles, Fundraising Champion

Missy Bowles lost her father, Richard O. Dorsey, to mesothelioma cancer in the late summer of 2008; but for this tireless, driven individual, the loss of a loved one to this disease was merely the beginning. It was in 2009 that Missy’s Google search for “mesothelioma support” led her to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. At this point, she made an oath to do what she could to promote awareness and raise funds for important research into malignant mesothelioma. Three years later, Missy is continuing the fight and nurturing her belief in a cure. “The Foundation was able to direct me back then in my first steps of how to put a fundraiser together,” Missy recalls, “and from that point on it took off.”

As we have blogged previously about creativity in a fundraiser, Missy quickly realized that the only limitation in what she could do to bring to everyone’s attention the severity of mesothelioma was her own imagination and ingenuity. Her 5K Walk, she knew, needed to be something more, so she added to the event a charity gospel sing, raffles and a silent auction featuring local vendors, and food and fun for everyone in the family. West Virginia’s Putnam County has embraced this memorial event and is currently ramping up for the third year of ROD’s Benefit for Meso, happening this year on September 22. “This new tradition,” Mark Hailburn reports for PutnamLIVE.com, “is a hit while lending a helping hand. The event continues to get bigger, better, and brings more awareness to others.”

“Third time is the charm,” Missy states, “Each year we have raised around or a little over $15,000 for research, and this year I plan to top that, reaching a goal of $20,000. This September, Eleanor Town Park in Eleanor, WV will be hosting the event.” At this year’s event, some of the items being given away include Coach purses, Vera Bradley items, fishing gear, dinners, tans, and overnight stays at hotels and bed & breakfasts.

While ROD’s Benefit for Meso sounds like a lot of work (and it is!), Missy’s drive to promote mesothelioma awareness is not limited to just this yearly event. She now organizes a summer event called Smiles for Meso with professional photographer Amanda Crowder. This project is centered around Crowder’s studio offering portrait packages and sitting fees with part of the purchase going to mesothelioma research. But that’s not all.

On August 27, Missy will be teaming up with Buffalo Wild Wings in Nitro, WV for a 5-9 p.m. fundraiser where patrons (dine in or carry out) simply mention “mesothelioma” while placing their order. This will result in Buffalo Wild Wings graciously contributing 15% of that purchase towards the Meso Foundation. And if you think that’s enough for Missy and her summer, think again. All this is just a warm-up as Missy gets ready to work out for mesothelioma awareness and research.

“My first ever Zumbathon for Meso will be held on Sept. 21st in Eleanor Town Park the evening before the big run/walk event. “We will begin at 6pm with Zumba in the Park with my instructor, Katie Toney.” For those unaware, Zumba is a variety of cultural dances, ranging from salsa, merengue, and calypso, turned into a sweat-intensive, multicultural workout. “We will zumba for an hour and break for some items of raffle and then dance for another hour.” With each $15 registration, participants will each receive a tee-shirt and gift bag.

Once her summer events are over, Missy also collaborates with friends from local tanning salon Tanfastiq to create seasonal gifts that are auctioned off throughout the year to keep the need for mesothelioma research funds on everyone’s minds. “We always are blessed with the help and sponsorship of our local communities, and each year it continues to grow.”

And still, Missy is not done.

“I wanted the residents of West Virginia to understand and acknowledge mesothelioma by having a designated day for it,” she says. Last year, Missy contacted the Meso Foundation’s Government Liaison, Jessica Barker. “She provided a lot of guidance,” Missy recalls, “telling me with whom I should start talking.”  With Jessica’s help, Missy contacted House Representative Brady Paxton who was eager to meet with her and begin work on this incredible step forward for the state. She then found herself winning the support of Senator Mike Hall. Within one month of visiting the Capitol, Missy, her mother, and her son were invited to the State Capitol to watch the passage of the resolution for Mesothelioma Awareness Day to be recognized in the State of West Virginia.

With all this, Missy never loses perspective on her motivation. “I am proud of my efforts that my father’s life has pushed me to do, but this will never bring him back,” she states. “He was such and unselfish and giving man that, I know if he could, he would do all he could to help others that face this disease. So in his honor and because he cannot, I will keep fighting for him and for others. I am here to help, guide and give them advice about the next steps to take and whom to contact for help and support.”

From the Foundation, Missy, we thank you for everything you do.

Interested in hosting a fundraiser for the Meso Foundation? For more information on giving of your time and talents in your area and planning your own fundraiser, contact Jessica Barker at (703) 879-3819 or email her at jbarker@curemeso.org. You can also find out more information on being mentored our Fundraising Co-Chairs Shelly Kozicki and Erica Ruble by visiting our website at http://www.curemeso.org.

FOR THE FOUNDATION: Ridin’ The Wind with Rob

Fundraisers come in as many varieties as there are interests. Fundraisers are also tributes to the people that inspire them; and for Jill Cagle, her special event this weekend is not just about raising awareness for mesothelioma research. It’s a celebration of a life well lived. This fundraising event is “Ridin’ the Wind with Rob,” happening this Saturday, July 28.

Jill’s husband, Rob Cagle, was an avid rider. Whether it was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with its signature roar or something more serene like a ten-speed bike, Rob loved to feel the wind in his hair and the sun on his skin, prompting his favorite turn-of-phrase, “It’s All Good.” Jill wanted to celebrate that love of the open road alongside the memory of her husband and so she put together this family-friendly event happening this weekend in Pekin, Illinois. Whether you ride a Harley, a Yamaha or simply wish to ride your car, you are invited to take part in this, 91-mile long, ride (or drive) for meso awareness. “We have a variety of events planned for the day,” Jill promises. “We’ll be registering your vehicles between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and for the kids we will have games to play. If you’re not riding, we’re also raffling off donations from local vendors and holding a bake sale. We’ve got something for everyone.”

“Ridin’ the Wind with Bob” is more than just an open ride through the streets of Pekin. Starting at 4 p.m. at Goodfellas will be a spaghetti dinner, a $6 charge for anyone 13 or older, $4 for kids between 4-12. “This event will be, I think, very much like Rob’s spirit,” says Jill. “This will be fun for all ages and people will bring out their favorite set of wheels and enjoy a day in the sun. This is how he would want to reach people — not with fear or anger, but with a positive, fun attitude, showing people the best way to stand up against mesothelioma cancer — by living.”

“Ridin’ the Wind with Rob” will happen this Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. (with a blessing of the bikes at 11:30 a.m.) and will last all day. The spaghetti dinner is at Goodfellas from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on this event or to make a donation in Rob’s name, call Jill at 309-267-3155. For more on upcoming events in the meso community, visit our website at CureMeso.org.

REMINDER: Support Group Tonight — CAREGIVERS

For those of you new to the Meso Foundation blog, we offer many resources here ranging from Social Media Moments to updates from Capitol Hill to success stories from the front lines of fundraising. Beyond our blog, though, we also offer a wide variety of resources on our website — CureMeso.org. Alongside podcasts, an Advocacy Ambassador program, and answers to your questions on mesothelioma, we also offer support groups, hosted by our Nurse Practitioner, Mary Hesdorffer. We understand the mesothelioma experience can often feel daunting and isolating which is why, every two weeks, we offer telephonic groups where people gather, talk, and listen.

Tonight’s group is a Caregivers Group, meeting at 7:30 p.m. If you wish to register and join a group, please contact Mary at mhesdorffer@curemeso.org or call the Foundation at (877) 363-6376 or consult our website for details.

We hope to talk to you soon.

FOR THE FOUNDATION: A Look Back at the 2nd Annual Lance S. Ruble Poker Classic

In case you missed the 2012 Symposium held here in Washington, D.C., Erica Ruble presented a standing room only presentation alongside fellow co-chair Shelly Kozicki, and there was a good reason Erica and Shelly’s presentation was in demand — they not only know the facts of fundraising, they practice what they preach. Erica, for example is just coming off a very successful poker tournament, a now-annual event that plays the odds and doubles down in the search for a cure.

The 2nd Annual Lance S. Ruble Poker Classic took place on Saturday, May 12, 2012, with proceeds benefiting the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.  The event was held in loving memory of Lance S. Ruble, Erica’s father, who passed away from mesothelioma almost four years ago. Erica, determined to make this event a success, rallied the support of not one but two communities. “I called on my friends in the meso and poker community to come together and support this great cause for an unforgettable night.” A professional poker event company was hired to run the tournament. There would be limited spaces available to play, but Erica made sure the event would be open to the public. The tournament was sold out with 40 players (each buy-in or cost to play for the card players was $100.00 with the option to re-buy or keep playing for $25.00), and over 100 people attended the event. For those not playing, raffles and a live auction were offered, with drawings every ten minutes.  Local businesses and large corporations all contributed, and the items raffled and auctioned off were wide and varied. “We auctioned off a donated painting,” Erica said, looking back on the generosity of the event’s donors. “27 corporations or businesses in our community donated to the event. 1st place prize was a 2 night stay at Shula’s Hotel in Miami Lakes, Florida with a complimentary golf foursome.  2nd place was a 1 night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Resort in Hollywood, Florida. 3rd place was a $500.00 gift certificate to Beverly’s Jewelers. All of these prizes were donated. The generosity still overwhelms me.”

Once the last card was dealt and the final bluff called, the 2nd Annual Lance S. Ruble Poker Classic tournament raised over $8,500 for the Meso Foundation. This was $1,500 more than last year’s tournament. “We chose poker because our friends and family enjoy playing poker,” Erica states. “My family wanted to bring everyone together for a good cause, and make it a really fun night out with friends and family.”

With their experience as the Foundation’s Fundraising co-chairs, Erica and Shelly have developed their own tips and techniques to offer the community when it comes to hosting a fundraiser:

  • When you are choosing a fundraiser, pick something that your friends and family will want to participate in and is a good fit for your target audience.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask businesses to donate to your event and also encourage them to attend. The worst a business can say is “No.”
  • To make the event more personal, more poignant, find an event that can serve as a tribute to the loved one’s life. (The Rubles also host an annual roller hockey tournament as Lance Ruble was a roller hockey coach.)
  • Time your events to coincide with significant days of your cause. (The Rubles host an annual walk for National Mesothelioma Awareness Day in September.)

You can find more fundraising tips by visiting our website and contacting us.

“Most importantly,” Erica states, “don’t ever think you can’t make a difference. Our family has raised over $170,000 for mesothelioma research in honor of my dad, all going to research grants established in his name.” Whether it is a donation or a successful poker tournament like Erica’s here, it is all a step forward in finding a cure.

Whether it is to volunteer your time, participate, or simply make a donation, you can find out more about what meso fundraiser is coming up next by checking our website. The next event coming up for the Meso Foundation to raise awareness and funds for research is the “Ridin’ the Wind with Rob”, happening in Pekin, Illinois, on July 28. The event promises to be a mix-and-match of vehicular mayhem where participants will enjoy a group ride for a cure. Bikes, trikes, cars and all types of transportation — even rollerblades and skateboards — are welcome!

For more information and more upcoming events across the country, take a look at our events page on our CureMeso.org website.

FOR THE FOUNDATION: The Mesothelioma Community Celebrates July 4th with a 5K Fundraising Run

Just prior to the amazing 2012 Symposium held here in Washington, D.C., the mesothelioma community of Washington state came together to kick off their July 4th with family and friends (both old and new). Instead of spending the morning grilling up burgers and hot dogs and gearing up for a night of fireworks, the people of Federal Way, Washington, were offered by Pat Dyhrman, Patricia Hatley and Diana Stewart a Memorial 5K Run/Walk as the kickoff to the holiday.

This “Miles for Meso” event was held with gracious support from the City of Federal Way, the Simmons Firm, and the Community Center Staff, beginning at the Federal Way Community Center with a pancake breakfast for its runners. This Miles for Meso 5K Walk/Run had more than 150 runners/walkers registered and ready to run with the day’s proceeds going to the Meso Foundation.  “Pat and I are so lucky to have really strong supporters and volunteers who have taken up this cause,” said Diana Stewart, one of the event’s sponsors. “We even won the approval of local media.” A local news site boldly stated that “The City of Federal Way is fighting back against mesothelioma,” and the Washington-based morning show New Day invited the Miles for Meso team to be part of the studio audience.

The City of Federal Way’s mayor, Skip Priest, cut the ribbon on the event after offering inspirational words for mesothelioma warriors in their fight. Following the 5K walk/run, the event turned into a raffle featuring 30 local businesses providing baskets, gift certificates and services. In the end, Pat, Patricia, and Diana raised in excess of $13,000 for finding a cure to this horrible disease.

While the event was a tribute for all those fighting mesothelioma and for those meso warriors who had fallen in their fight, the organizers of this event dedicated the day to Dick Dhyrman a geologist from Weyerhaeuser Company; Bud Hatley, the Athletic Director from the Federal Way School District; and Bob Stewart, a Federal Way High School teacher and coach. Bob and Bud are members of the Federal Way School District Hall of Fame, honored for their outstanding work with local youth. Dick Dyhrman was highly involved in community events and a volunteer in scouting and local schools. “All three of us are inspired to fight back as our husbands did against the results of asbestos.”

The organizers regarded this inaugural run/walk as their “thank you” to the Foundation. “When we received the horrible news that our husbands had mesothelioma, the Meso Foundation became a major part of our lives. The Foundation educated us about the disease, provided support if needed and continue to help us with our grief, even today.  There isn’t a day that goes by that the work of the Meso Foundation is not on our minds and hearts,” Stewart said.

The next event coming up for the Meso Foundation to raise awareness and funds for research is the “Ridin’ the Wind with Rob”, happening in Pekin, Illinois, on July 28.

The event promises to be a mix-and-match of vehicular mayhem where participants will enjoy a group ride for a cure. Bikes, trikes, cars and all types of transportation — even rollerblades and skateboards — are welcome!

For more information and more upcoming events across the country, take a look at our Events page on our CureMeso.org website