New Balance Products Raise Money for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Kevin with his dad.

Kevin Connelly, a New Balance sales rep from the Chicagoland area, became inspired to host a fundraising event about six months ago, right after his dad’s diagnosis of mesothelioma. In search for more information about mesothelioma, Kevin decided to attend the Meso Foundation’s Symposium. It was at the Symposium where the pieces to his event puzzle started coming together.

Kevin felt that, to maximize his impact, his event should reflect his own interests and should allow him to use his expertise and resources. Finally, it dawned on him! He realized that he could partner with the retailers he works with on a daily basis to help raise awareness, and money.

He pitched the idea to his retailers asking them to donate part of the proceeds from New Balance merchandise to the Meso Foundation, and a great number of them agreed.

Getting some of them to commit to a day and amount of donation has been challenging, but Kevin didn’t take “no” for an answer. Here is the list of participating retailers who committed for September 2012:

September 21st– 23rd
Naperville Running Company
34 W. Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540
September 26th
Holmes Shoes
4700 N. University
Peoria, IL 61614
Holmes Shoes
1150 W. Carl Sandburg Dr. (Sandburg Mall)
Galesburg, IL 61401
September 26th
Holmes Shoes
3636 Ave. of the Cities
Moline, IL 61265
September 26th– 29th
Mosser’s Shoes
2460 W. Wabash
Springfield, IL 62704
Mosser’s Shoes
6 Convenience Center
Champaign, IL 61820

Now that this year’s event is underway, Kevin is already planning for next year. He has lots of ideas that he just didn’t have time to implement this time around, and that will make his fundraiser even more profitable. He feels that including an online shopping component, for example, would allow him a far greater reach. Also, perhaps, changing the time of his fundraiser to a month other than September (as September is not a very good retail month in general) could yield him larger contributions.

“What I hope to do in the future is to piggyback off of other promotions that the retailers run,” says Kevin. “If I can get them to donate a portion of their sales from those days, this would be a huge success,” he adds.

The Meso Foundation is very proud of Kevin and of all our volunteers and community members who work hard to raise money for mesothelioma research, patient support and education, and for advocacy to end mesothelioma and the suffering it causes. We urge you to support Mesothelioma Awareness Day by participating in one of our community events and by supporting our volunteers’ fundraising efforts.

5K Run/Walk for Mesothelioma in Memory of Gary Batch – Waterford, CT

For many months now, the Batch family has been working hard planning and organizing their first 5K Run/Walk for Meso in memory of Gary Batch, benefiting the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. On Saturday, September 22, 2012, their hard work will come to fruition as they welcome runners and walkers to this family friendly event in Waterford, CT.

Starting at Waterford Beach Park and stretching along the coast of Long Island Sound, this run/walk was entirely inspired by the loss the Batch family suffered. Gary Batch was a beloved husband, father and grandfather, and Waterford was the town where he resided and raised his family. With this race, the family wanted to carry on his memory but also to give back, just as Gary did his entire life. He was the epitome of a selfless man.

After serving our country in the Navy, right out of high school, Gary spent his life protecting the local community as a firefighter, while at the same time volunteering his time to serve as president of the New London Firefighters Union for 16 years. He also shared his passion of sports with the youth of Waterford by coaching and contributing his time to the preteen basketball and little league organizations.  These are just a few examples of how Gary spent his time to give back to the community.

The Batch’s hope to get a good turn-out of our family and friends participating, along with those in the community who either want to come out for a good time, or to support a great cause.

“We think everyone will not only enjoy the course, but the food and raffle prizes after as well.  In general, we are looking to use multiple avenues to raise money and awareness for mesothelioma,” says the Batch family.

More information about the race is available at

To donate in support of the race and in memory of Gary Batch, please visit:

If you don’t live in Connecticut, but would like to find an event to support around Mesothelioma Awareness Day, click here to view our list of upcoming community events.

UPDATES FROM IMIG: Part 2, Thursday, September 13, 2012

  • In a talk concerning adjuvant radiation following EPP, it was stated that radiation oncologists who are inexperienced may not give as high a dose or may shy away from difficult areas.  It was felt to be important based upon lower local failure in centers with expertise in radiation oncology.  Concern was expressed about patients having radiation locally and perhaps this needs to be emphasized at the time of the initial surgical consult.  This is an important take home message and reason to explore accommodations where there is expertise early in the process.
  • Dr. Joseph Friedberg presented on his current approach using photodynamic therapy. Dr. Friedberg has been championing this procedure over the past few years and has discussed that he does a “radical pleurectomy” coupled with photodynamic therapy.  Photofrin, which is the agent used in this light-based therapy, has recently received orphan drug status. This procedure will not be offered to non epithelial patients.  Dr. Friedberg agreed with one of the earlier speaker that node 2 disease patients benefit from this procedure.  It has been noted that pleurectomy decortication is not a standardized procedure and there are variations among the surgeons. There has been discussion at this conference and others about the need to standardize these approaches so that we can compare series of patients with confidence that we are comparing results of the same procedure.  There are plans underway to do a randomized trial (eliminates investigator bias) to determine if PDT is superior to a radical pleurectomy without PDT.  Will keep you posted when this trial gets underway.
  • Polymeric films are under investigation as a new method to deliver drugs directly to the chest cavity.  The films facilitate increased drug penetration in comparison to Cisplatin solution for prolonged periods of time. Animal models of these polymeric films containing Cisplatin demonstrated ease of application, ability to cover the pleural space ability to reach highly concentrated drug in comparison to intravenous or intra-pleural Cisplatin.  This new approach also appears to be associated with less kidney toxicity.  Work is ongoing and anticipated that it have applicability in mesothelioma patients in the next few years.
  • Dr. Paul Sugarbaker was the first speaker in the session about peritoneal mesothelioma.  He stated that the median survival is now at 10 years, with about 1/3 of the patient requiring another surgery at some point during the course of the disease.  Dr. Sugarbaker currently has a new protocol which he spoke about using bidirectional treatment where surgery is performed and then for 6 months following surgery patients will receive 6 additional cycles of chemotherapy both IV and intraperitoneal via ports placed into the abdominal cavity.It was discussed that patients who recur in the chest have surgery and rarely recur again in the chest cavity.  He was congratulated by chest surgeons who are striving to replicate these results in pleural mesothelioma.
  • Dr. Steven Albelda, a member of our SAB, spoke about immunotherapy in mesothelioma and mentioned the large number of immunology trials taking place in mesothelioma.  Passive immunotherapy use of antibodies to treat cancer – antibodies can inhibit signaling pathways or can coat malignant cells making them targets for drugs or be immunotoxin for example SS1P at the NCI. Mesothelin is highly expressed in many cancers and has become a target in a number of mesothelioma clinical trials.  Soluble mesothelin can be used as a biomarker (Mesomark).Amatuximab (anti mesothelin antibody) given in combination with Pemetrexed and Cisplatin will be moving into a randomized trial at least that is the underlying buzz at this conference.Some trials were reported using immunotherapy in small number of patients which appeared to result in prolonged stability after initial response.Many of us of heard of Provenge being approved in prostate cancer we also have vaccines now being studied in the clinics. In the Netherlands they are investigating dendritic cell vaccines, at MSKCC we are looking at the WT1 vaccine both initially funded by the Mesothelioma Foundation.UPenn has a t cell vaccine which is being offered to patients who have failed prior therapy.

    The presentation ended with a  discussion with the use of gene therapy which is under investigation at UPenn. The gene therapy utilizes an adenovirus to stimulate the immune system.

UPDATES FROM IMIG: Part 1 – Thursday, September 13

  • Dr. David Sugarbaker spoke about the effectiveness of surgery and some of the adjuvant therapies that can be used to clean up the surgical site or to combat recurrent disease. We heard about biologics, photodynamic therapy, and there will be sessions later today on intracavitary heated chemotherapy during surgery, and then more on staging, imaging, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.  There will be a dedicated session for peritoneal mesothelioma.
  • In the early afternoon, the Meso Foundation will be hosting a lunch where Meso Foundation funded grantees will present their work. All of our grantees’ posters were selected to discuss their work in sessions throughout this meeting, thus highlighting the ability of our Scientific Advisory Board to identify promising new research.  This is only possible due to the generous donations of our mesothelioma community.
  • There has been some heated debate during this meeting about the differing surgical options of EPP vs. PD or even if surgery should remain an option.  Those attending the meeting have a focused dedication to irradiating mesothelioma and this debate moves the field forward.
  • Question under discussion during the surgical session: Is it better to treat neo-adjuvant (chemo before surgery) or post- surgery.  Seems there might be a light advantage using neo-adjuvant but the evidence is not strong so it remains surgical choice.
  • Yesterday we learned that histology can change in approximately 20% of the cases – larger samples allow for more accurate diagnosis of histologic subtype.  Another reason why we describe mesothelioma as a disease best staged and described through surgery.
  • What factors are relevant for treatment decision?  Role of mediastinoscopy – perhaps we need to rethink nodal status as some with lymph nodes (N2) still did well following surgery though the numbers were small. Discussion ensued that with larger numbers there would be a demonstrable difference. It was suggested that this group (those with nodal involvement) may benefit from neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.
  • Tumor volume has prognostic value. We can measure this on scans and the evidence is solid. It has been suggested that we factor this in.
  • Waiting for the discussion of the IASLC Mesothelioma Staging Project which will take place this afternoon.

Zadroga Act Now Includes Coverage of Mesothelioma

Last night, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promulgated the final rule adding 58 conditions to the list of conditions eligible for coverage under the Zadroga Act. This list includes mesothelioma.  Cancer, in general, was originally not covered under the legislation.  This is a great victory for the mesothelioma community, as the large release of asbestos at ground zero has been documented.  Given the long latency period of mesothelioma (10-60 years), we have clearly not seen the end of this tragedy.  The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation has been a vocal advocate for the addition of mesothelioma as a condition eligible for coverage and we are ecstatic to see this addition.

The program is funded for approximately three more years, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is expected to introduce an extension sometime this fall.

For more information, please see our earlier blog: