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 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 website

FOR THE FOUNDATION: Students Overseas Sponsor Summer Bazaar to Raise Awareness for Mesothelioma

Students at the Kuwait American School (KAS) organized a charity expo on April 28th to raise awareness for mesothelioma research. After their beloved school director Mrs. Wajeeha Al Habib fell to mesothelioma cancer, the student body rallied and proposed to the school the idea of an open bazaar. Thirty small businesses sold their services and unique products to guests. Booths comprised of businesses offering desserts, summer programs, accessories, and others, with the entrance fee and booth rent given to a “Cure Mesothelioma” booth organized and run by the student body. Even with such a short period of planning, KAS gave their students full support for this heartfelt idea, and allowed for the collection of donations at the Cure Meso booth.

Have a look at the KAS publication StudenTalk magazine’s “Activities That Stand Out” to read their own coverage of the event.

Raising funds and awareness about mesothelioma cancer isn’t easy, and still people want to know more about how to organize an event. We see that in the amount of people visiting our 6 Tips on Planning Your Own Fundraiser blogpost. It’s when you hear stories from Erica Iacono and Janice Malkotsis, you discover, that planning fundraisers is simply answering a call. When it comes to this the KAS student body displayed the drive and spirit needed in doing just that, and taking an idea to full fruition as a successful fundraiser.

At the end of the event, the KAS charity bazaar proved highly successful with over 1000 attendees, numerous contributions from sponsors, and held in the presence of H.E. Sheikha Awrad Jaber Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah. The event also gained momentum on blogs, and in local newspapers and magazines. The students of KAS raised for the Meso Foundation $19,826, truly an accomplishment from the heart. This event, KAS school administration and students alike, was a one-of-a-kind, the cause of furthering mesothelioma research and believing in a cure deeply touching all who took part.

(Starting from the left) Living Values Booth: Shereen Kamal, Razan AlHuneidi, Ashraqat Sayed, Mariam, Shaaban, Omniya Sobl, Duaa Mansour (Living Values Booth) with Al-Sheikha Awrad AlSubah
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(Starting from the left) Ahmed Sedfi, Serein Maxx, Latifa Al-Baqshi, Sina Karimi, managing the Donations for Mesothelioma Booth
Salwa, Abeer Al-Halabi, Al-Sheikha Awrad Al-Subah, Batool Arjomand,
Fawaz AlShammari Presenting An Award Of Gratitude To Al-Sheikha Awrad Al-Subah

We at the Meso Foundation thank all those at KAS for their determination, vision, and planning of this incredible tribute to Wajeeha Al Habib, and we sincerely hope to hear more from them, and from other mesothelioma warriors around the world, of overcoming their own challenges and achieving accomplishments for raising awareness.

The Meso Foundation’s Volunteers of the Year Award Recipients: Erica Iacono and Janice Malkotsis

At the Meso Foundation’s annual symposium — this year, happening July 12-13 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC — individuals are bestowed honors for superlative service to the community, ranging from volunteer efforts to advancement in research. The Volunteer of the Year award honors an individual who has given both time and resources to advance the mission of the Meso Foundation. Recipients of this achievement have taken it upon themselves to make sure that mesothelioma, its devastating effects, and the pressing necessity of ongoing research continues to be brought to the forefront of the world in order to effect change. This year, the Meso Foundation is thrilled to bestow this honor to Erica Iacono and Janice Malkotsis. Erica and Janice have over the past seven years been organizing a run/walk in the New York area, raising over $100,000 for mesothelioma. They are huge advocates for mesothelioma awareness and research, and continue to assist the Meso Foundation in getting the word out there about this disease.

Erica Iacono took a moment to chat with us at the Meso Foundation about how she and Janice began their collaboration to raise awareness. “We actually met through the Meso Foundation. My dad passed away in 2000 from mesothelioma, and I eventually got in touch with the Foundation, wanting to volunteer, raise awareness; but at the time, the Meso Foundation was a brand new organization so the volunteer network was limited. Continue reading “The Meso Foundation’s Volunteers of the Year Award Recipients: Erica Iacono and Janice Malkotsis” »