by Erica Ruble, Fundraising Coordinator, Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation
I lost my hero and father, Lance S. Ruble, to mesothelioma on August 16, 2008. Determined to make a difference and learn more about the disease, I attended my first Symposium in Washington, DC in 2009. It was at this conference that I was inspired by the meso community – specifically by Shelly Kozicki – to begin raising funds for this orphan disease. Shelly had lost her husband Craig to mesothelioma and began fundraising in his memory. I was determined to do the same for my dad.
As I flew back to my hometown, I began brainstorming about raising funds for mesothelioma. Like so many of you out there in our meso community, I had never asked for any type of monetary donation in my life. Even when I was in grade school and we had to sell $1.00 chocolate bars for our school fundraiser, my parents would just buy the whole box. We were always too timid to ask people to make a contribution, but now all of that has changed.
I began my fundraising efforts with a simple letter campaign, putting pen to paper and sharing my dad’s story. I sent this letter to over 250 family members and friends. What I received in return was overwhelming, yet beautiful. The notes and donations came pouring in, and my letter campaign raised over $27,000. A fundraising campaign was born and this was now my new mission in life. To date, our family has raised over $223,000 for mesothelioma research and we are just beginning.
I will be writing monthly about my fundraising efforts. I hope you will join me in this movement to raise funds for mesothelioma. Knowing that there is a family out there who is just like yours and mine is one of the biggest motivations to give back. They are scared, they are not sure what treatment to choose, and most importantly, they want their loved one to LIVE.
We all have a chance in life to give back and help others. This is your opportunity! Whether you are a meso patient, a family member, have lost someone to the disease, or just want to support the cause, I urge you to get involved with fundraising. On a personal level, fundraising has helped me to heal and make sense of my dad’s passing. Of course I still question why this happened, but by giving back and helping others, my dad’s legacy – the man he WAS and STILL IS – lives on.