The Meso Foundation is honored to announce the recipients of its 2016 Above and Beyond Award (formerly known as the Volunteer of the Year Award). Missy Bowles of Eleanor, West Virginia, and Mark Wells of Mechanicville, New York, have been selected as the recipients of this award, which is presented to community members of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation who work to advance the mission of the Meso Foundation through efforts of advocacy, awareness-building and/or providing education and support.
Through annual events over the course of several years, both Ms. Bowles and Mr. Wells have raised considerable awareness and funds for mesothelioma research, education, support, and advocacy.
Ms. Bowles began her relentless efforts in 2009, only one year after losing her father to mesothelioma. Her ROD’s Benefit for Meso (ROD are her father’s initials) has become a staple event in her hometown of Eleanor, West Virginia, and has grown over the years from a simple 5K Run to a full-fledged event with music, food, raffles, a silent auction, and kids’ activities. This year, Ms. Bowles’ event will take place on September 17th.
“I started RODs Benefit for Meso a year after I lost my daddy to peritoneal mesothelioma. It started out as a way to keep his memory alive but has since evolved as a way to help others in the mesothelioma community and give back to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.”
This event and several smaller ones throughout the year have raised $120,000.
Mark Wells, the organizer behind the iconic and picturesque Kayaking 4 Meso event, got his start in 2011. His motivation was his daughter Linda, who at age 16 was diagnosed with mesothelioma. His first year, the event was just the beginning of an idea and included 3 kayakers. By 2015, the event has grown into an incredible 150 kayakers paddling down the Hudson River, and has raised over $45,000.
“She has been through hell and back and it’s been very tough to see your daughter suffer when there’s nothing you can do. Feeling helpless, I felt this was the best I could do to fight this disease,” says Mark Wells.
The work required to organize such large scale events is considerable and doesn’t go unnoticed by the Meso Foundation.
“We are so fortunate to work with such a passionate community. Both Missy and Mark have put their heart and soul into their events, and it shows. Their commitment to the cause has made them incredibly successful in their endeavors, and we wish to honor their efforts and sacrifices with this award,” said Melinda Kotzian, the chief executive officer of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
“They are the epitome of someone who has gone ‘above and beyond’ in their work toward accomplishing our mission of eradicating mesothelioma and the incredible suffering caused by this cancer. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Ms. Kotzian added.