Thank You to Tim McDonnell

Tim McDonnellThe Meso Foundation would like to thank Tim McDonnell for his participation in the HITS Triathlon Series in Naples, Florida to raise funds for the Meso Foundation. Tim annually hosts fundraising events for the foundation, and his dedication to our mission is greatly appreciated. Below, read the article written about Tim’s participation in the triathlon from Naples Daily News.

NAPLES, Fla. – He had just swam 1,500 meters, biked about 25 miles, and ran close to a quarter marathon, but Timothy McDonnell still kept a brisk pace to greet her.

She was standing near the finish line having earlier completed a triathlon of her own, but still looked radiant in a bright yellow athletic tank top with short blonde hair. McDonnell hobbled over quickly, paused for an iPad photo, before embracing her with a hug and a kiss.

McDonnell and his wife, Andrea, had come a long way for this moment.

Part of the HITS Triathlon Series held in Naples this weekend, Timothy, 52, and Andrea McDonnell, 50, completed the Olympic and Sprint distance events, respectively.

But their accomplishments were really just another leg on a longer journey, one that expands beyond the miles they trekked Sunday.

It begins, with sickness and tragedy, in Michigan.

In 2009, Timothy McDonnell’s brother-in-law died of mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer — he’d been diagnosed five years prior, right after his honeymoon.

That same year, Andrea McDonnell was living what she calls a “miserable” existence in Michigan. She, too, had been given a diagnosis — breast cancer, in 2008 — and her chemotherapy sessions were all but unbearable.

“You’re watching the nurses get into full protective gear, and they take a bag that has a bio-hazard label on it, and they’re dumping it into the vein that goes right into your heart,” Andrea McDonnell said Sunday. “They’re completely protected, but they’re dumping it into my heart.”

Andrea McDonnell, almost literally, stayed on the couch for five years.

“You sit down and you don’t move,” said McDonnell, whose chemotherapy ended in 2013. “You have no energy. You feel sick all the time. I had pain everywhere.”

Timothy McDonnell tried to keep his wife active. After Andrea was diagnosed, Timothy began participating in cancer fundraisers every year. He’s done nine breast cancer walks, five rides-for-the-cure, and scores of other events.

For the past three years, Timothy McDonnell has competed in triathlons, in part to honor his late brother-in-law and raise cancer research money.

Andrea, who gained 70 pounds during chemo, tried accompanying Timothy to his spin classes at the gym. Always in pain, she couldn’t get through the workouts without crying.

“It was so freaking hard,” Andrea said, tearing up.

But in August 2013, the family hired a trainer who got Andrea on a diet and a daily training regimen. She lost the 70 pounds she gained — plus five more pounds — and began competing in triathlons like her husband.

On Sunday, Andrea finished the Sprint distance event — a 750-meter swim, 12.4-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run — in 1 hour, 42 minutes and 47 seconds, good for ninth place in her age group.

“It’s a good means to an end,” she said about triathlons. “I’m really proud to say that I’m now able to do it. Not everybody’s able to do one.”

The McDonnells were a couple of the estimated 2,000 visitors to the city this weekend for the HITS Triathlon Series, held in Naples for the fourth year. The event brought about $1 million in revenue, according to the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau, and attracted international competition, including athletes from the United Arab Emirates and Puerto Rico.

Most of the weekend, intersections on Vanderbilt Beach Road were manned by traffic officers, allowing for participants in the triathlons’ bike portions to pedal through. But cars still were allowed on the roads, which caused some issues.

Mike Aubrey, an athlete competing in the half triathlon, said he was struck by a car while biking Saturday morning. He said he was making a turn on his route when a car pulled out in front of him, cutting off the bike lane, and sent him crashing between the car and the guardrail.

“People are clueless. Really it’s a shame,” said Aubrey, who was able to finish the race. “It was a fun race, but the drivers are just crazy.”

Timothy McDonnell didn’t have any issues with his bike portion. That part is probably his strength, he said. But he struggled during the final leg — his 6.2-mile run in the Florida sun.

“About mile four, the heat was starting to get to me,” McDonnell said. “We haven’t had this weather in Michigan in four months.”

At the finish line, McDonnell came huffing and puffing across. His run portion was more like a “walk/jog,” he would say later. He doubled over for a moment while receiving his medal, but he quickly lifted his head up to lock eyes with his wife, waiting for him several yards away.

Then he started moving again.

Meso Warrior Heather Nash Makes Video to Raise Awareness

Heather NashThe Meso Foundation was recently featured in a video released by a mesothelioma warrior, Heather Nash, whose goal was to correct misconception about this deadly cancer and to request that viewers support the Meso Foundation.

In the video, Heather leafs through written cardboard sheets from which the viewer learns about her story. On them, she says, “My name is Heather. I am a daughter. I am a wife. I am a mom. I was a nurse. I was healthy. I have cancer. Mesothelioma. Average life expectancy: 9 to 18 months. I need your help to find a cure. Please give at curemeso.org.”

When asked about her reason for making the video, Heather explains that her goal was to show that the face of meso often isn’t the one seen on late night TV commercials.

“This cancer does not discriminate and I am an example of that,” says Heather.

“Also, being a relatively rare cancer, research into it gets little funding. I hope this video can help change that,” she added.

View the video below and visit curemeso.org/savelives to support the Meso Foundation’s life-saving programs and patient services.

Introducing Muriel Evans-Buck, Director of Development

Muriel Evans-BuckAiming to strengthen its major fundraising efforts, the Meso Foundation added Muriel Evans-Buck as the Director of Development. Muriel started on December 1, 2014 bringing with her extensive experience in professional fundraising.

Muriel’s career has included senior positions in development with several national organizations. She has worked for Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. She has also worked in the political arena as a policy analyst for the late Governor Bruce Sundlun of Rhode Island and is a former member of the Electoral College representing the State of Rhode Island.

“Funding mesothelioma research, education, support, and advocacy is our first priority. Muriel is here to help us mobilize the resources necessary to do just that,” said Melinda Kotzian, the chief executive officer of the Meso Foundation.

“I am committed to increasing visibility, awareness and revenue for the Meso Foundation. I look forward to working side by side with the meso community,” said Muriel.

The new Director of Development holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Nyack University. She is an avid runner and enjoys reading and listening to classical music. She is the proud mom of Kennedy, a high school student.

Support the Meso Foundation by Shopping with AmazonSmile

Meso Foundation on AmazonSmileThis year, as you go about your holiday shopping, please consider visiting smile.amazon.com to support the Meso Foundation. Amazon.com recently started a program called AmazonSmile, which allows users to donate to charitable organizations of their choice simply by shopping. Upon selecting the Meso Foundation and making a purchase at smile.amazon.com, a portion of the purchase price will be given to the Foundation.

At smile.amazon.com, users can select the Meso Foundation as their charity of choice, browse through millions of products and simply make a purchase. For every purchase made, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the Meso Foundation.

The Meso Foundation is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and the suffering it causes. We have responsibly invested resources into mesothelioma research, education, patient support, and advocacy, and our work is paying off.

If you are interested in additional information or more ways to support the Meso Foundation, please visit curemeso.org/savelives.

Multiply Your Impact on Giving Tuesday!

GiveIn addition to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, in recent years, a new movement has emerged: Giving Tuesday. This year, we hope you can take part in Giving Tuesday through the Meso Foundation.

On Giving Tuesday, December 2nd, here’s how you can multiply your impact in our fight against mesothelioma by supporting the Meso Foundation:

1. Donate online here, or mail a check to:
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
1317 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

2. Start an online fundraising page. You can customize a fundraising page that will share your story and explain why you support the Meso Foundation. You can consider asking for donations to be made in lieu of gifts, and we will track all donations that come in through your network in real time.

3. Send out appeal letters. We have created a generic appeal letter for you to customize with your personal story. Click here to download the sample letter. Customize it and send it to your contacts. Donations can be mailed directly to the Meso Foundation (1317 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314), and we will alert you when someone has donated in your name.

Donate

You can learn more about our year-end fundraising efforts at curemeso.org/savelives. Thank you for your participation in our year-end fundraising efforts. Your support saves lives!