GUEST BLOG: Sarah Lackner Attends the Charlie Cole Golf Classic

Lynn Cole and Sarah Lacknerby Sarah Lackner

I spent the third weekend in May in Asheville, North Carolina on behalf of the Meso Foundation at the 3rd Annual Charlie Cole Golf Classic hosted by Lynn Cole, along with her children, Matt and Katie, in memory of her husband, Charlie, who lost his battle with mesothelioma on March 31, 2010 after only 17 months.

I hadn’t met the Cole family prior to this weekend, but what occurred during that quick less-than-48-hour trip is exactly what the Foundation is about. The warmth and strength that the family displayed, their incredibly supportive and loving friends, as well as other local meso community members all contributed to making the day an absolute success.

Not only was I able to thank the Cole family for their commitment, their friends and family for their support, I was able to spend time truly connecting with each of them. Katie and I were the same age when we lost our parent and zipping around on the golf cart gave us a few hours to share our experiences, both of the loss and of life after the loss. Later that evening, Matt and I were able to also have those conversations that only occur with someone who has been through what we as a community go through. C.S. Lewis says that friendship is born that moment when one man says to another “What? You too? I thought that no one but myself…”

Charlie Cole Gold ClassicThis event was, for me, everything that the Foundation works for: supporting research, education, support, and advocacy programs through raising funds and awareness as well as bringing together those affected by mesothelioma. It takes what is often an isolating disease and provides a place where if you want to talk about it, everyone understands, and if you don’t want to talk about it, everyone understands.

Thank you, so much, Lynn, Matt and Katie for allowing me to share the weekend with you. And thank you for believing in and working towards a cure.

Announcing the Giving Circles Fundraising Program

The Meso Foundation establishes Giving Circles, a new fundraising program for mesothelioma research, education, support, advocacy.The Meso Foundation has established a new fundraising program to generate necessary funds for its mesothelioma patient programs and research grants. This fundraising program features four distinct Giving Circles offering different ways for constituents to participate in the fight against mesothelioma.

The four Giving Circles are currently structured as follows:

  • The Blue Ribbon Council provides an avenue for individuals who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma to come together for support.
  • The Warrior Council offers mesothelioma patients, their family members, and caregivers a safe haven where they can lean on and learn from each other while battling this disease.
  • The Rising Leaders Council is a community for up-and-coming fundraisers and advocates to raise funds and awareness for the organization.
  • The Meso Professionals Council offers a place for professionals working in the mesothelioma field to demonstrate their commitment to the Foundation and the individuals it serves.

For more information about each giving circle, visit

Mission Cure Meso: A Wrap-Up of April Fundraising Events

Cycling for Mesoby Dana Purcell, Development Coordinator, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

Spring is here and fundraising events for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation are in full swing! April was a busy month for community fundraisers. Each event had a special connection to mesothelioma and a creative way to bring in funding towards research, education, and advocacy. From California to New York, Meso Foundation staff members and board members were able to see the great efforts of the meso community.

The month started out with an event on April 6th in California, the Rock for Peace Benefit Concert. This event was organized by the Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s Breath of Hope Club and the Bendix family to contribute funds towards the Ken Bendix 2nd Memorial Grant. Over 200 people were in attendance and the concert featured two bands and three soloists, as well as a YouTube video played to raise mesothelioma awareness.

On Saturday morning, April 12th, the Get the Lead Out! 5k/10k and 1 mile walk took place on a perfect spring day. The event was hosted by The Norm Kulig 2Young2Go Foundation, which was formed by siblings who lost their brother, Norm, at the age of 42 to mesothelioma. A portion of the funds raised from this event is given to the Meso Foundation and has been a proven success for many years now. Bill Kasenchar did a fantastic job with the logistics of the event and making it a success yet again!

Get the Lead Out!The last weekend of April included three events for the Foundation, one being the 5k for Michael Bradley. This event was all about community and honoring Michael, who had passed just days before the event. There were family and friends that drove over 12 hours to participate in the 5K. Members of the Varnell, GA community gathered to lend a hand and offer support. Melinda Kotzian, CEO of the Meso Foundation, was there to thank all the attendees and give a special thank you to the Bradley and Neuenschwander family.

Cycling for Meso was the 1st annual event hosted by Gori Julian and Associates in Edwardsville, IL. Participants endured one of three trails that were 3, 10, or 26 miles, making it fun for all riders of different levels to enjoy. The event was able to bring a high amount through sponsorship and proved to be a real community event. Dawn Devine and Chrissy Howard worked so hard getting silent auction items, designing great t-shirts and making the event a true success.

On Sunday, April 27, the 9th Annual Walk for Hope took place in Eienshower, New York. The event is organized each yearby Janice Malkotsis and Meso Foundation board member Erica Iacono in memory of their fathers, Joseph Lombardo and Anthony Iacono. It was a gorgeous day for a long stroll in the park, and the walk was followed by a raffle that included prizes such as New York Met tickets!

The Meso Foundation wants to thank everyone for their incredible efforts and the hard work they put into these events. The hard work our fundraisers put in to these events helps the Foundation get another step closer to our goal!

Visit to see a list of upcoming community events.

Meso Foundation Receives $11,000 Donation from the National Insulation Association

NIA Presents Donation to Meso FoundationOn May 13, Meso Foundation CEO Melinda Kotzian traveled to the Northern Virginia offices of the National Insulation Association (NIA) where she was presented with an $11,000 donation to the Foundation. NIA held a silent auction in April of 2014 as part of their annual convention, through which they raised $22,000. Half of the money was given to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, while the other half was given to the NIA Foundation for Education, Training, and Industry Advancement.

Founded in 1953, the National Insulation Association works to keep the commercial and industrial insulation industry up-to-date on industry trends and technological advances. The NIA Foundation for Education, Training, and Industry Advancement funds high-quality programs to increase awareness of the many benefits of insulation, and it has developed training and other industry-enriching programs.

Michele M. Jones, the Executive Vice President and CEO of NIA, personally presented the $11,000 donation to Melinda Kotzian. When asked why NIA chose the Meso Foundation as the recipient, Jones said, “We wanted to pick a charity that resonated with our members so that it would add to the meaningfulness of the silent auction and bring out the motivation of our members to donate.”

In its early years, NIA often saw the use of asbestos in insulation. In the 1950s and 60s, most insulators did not know of the risks involved with asbestos exposures. Due to the fact that mesothelioma has a latency period of 20 to 60 years, some insulators who were exposed to asbestos back then are now developing mesothelioma. Jones continued, “[Mesothelioma] has been prevalent throughout our history and we want to do our part and do what we can for those who have been affected by this disease.”

This donation helps the Meso Foundation maintain and improve its many programs, including its patient support services; development and distribution of online and offline educational materials; funding of the most promising research to develop life-saving treatments; and advocating the federal government for continued and increased funding of research. Upon receiving the donation at NIA, Melinda Kotzian noted, “As such a small organization, this amount makes a huge impact on what we do. Every dollar enables us to continue to operate our life-saving programs.”

To learn more about mesothelioma and Meso Foundation programs, visit

GUEST BLOG: A Mother’s Day Letter from Sarah Lackner

Sarah Lackner and motherby Sarah Lackner

May 10th, 2014 will mark the three year anniversary since my mom passed away from mesothelioma. She was 57 years old. This year, her anniversary is the day before Mother’s Day, which, for those of you who knew her, is perfectly fitting.

I was 21 when my mom was diagnosed with meso and 23 when she passed away. Tragically, my mom’s diagnosis was not the first time I heard the word mesothelioma, and her passing was not the last time our family would suffer a loss from it. Sixteen months after my mom passed away, her sister, my Aunt Linda, lost her own battle with the disease.

Mesothelioma has been woven into my family’s story for over 30 years. As a child I didn’t comprehend the harshness of this cancer, I just knew it was something Uncle Jimmy, my mom’s brother, had passed away from when I was a baby. I knew asbestos was why I never met my grandparents. While meso will always be part of my family history, I am determined to make being part of a cure, my legacy. That is why I’ve joined the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s newly formed Rising Leaders Council. The council will help the Foundation obtain resources needed to continue its quest to eradicate this disease. Each council member will be asked to either individually donate or fundraise for a specific amount. Whether you’re fighting meso yourself or fighting to honor a loved one, WE, more than anyone, need to stay involved.

With that, I ask that you join with me in committing to support the Foundation by joining the Rising Leaders Council. When you become a Council member you will:

  • Receive an invitation to a quarterly call with other council members and staff to get an insider look to the Meso Foundation’s current projects and goals.
  • Become a Meso Foundation Representative at community events.
  • Receive an invitation to the VIP reception at the 2015 Symposium.
  • Be given special recognition at the 2015 Symposium.
  • Have the ability to honor your loved one or current patient.

You can learn more about the Rising Leaders Council and sign up at Please take this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.