Documentary Chronicles Record Run for a Departed Friend and Myeloma Research

Inês Martins, PhD avatar

by Inês Martins, PhD |

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Film on myeloma run

A new documentary, “200 Miles,” tells the inspiring story of ultra-marathoner Eric Gelber’s determination to complete 33 loops of New York’s Central Park to honor a friend who died of multiple myeloma.

Gelber, who became a multiple myeloma advocate when his friend Anita Sorrell was battling the cancer before her death in 2012, completed the 200 miles in one weekend after two failed attempts.

His achievement raised the final $320,000 of the $1 million he had pledged to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. The grit he displayed inspired the myeloma community to dub his quest Journey Towards a Cure. And the foundation created a website with that name to spread the word.

The documentary debuted at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival in New York last month. The film documents the challenges and heartaches Gelber faced in trying to run the 200 miles before finally triumphing. It also follows the stories of several myeloma patients who were touched by his quest.

Tribeca Studios and Celgene Corporation partnered to produce the film, directed by Sam Bathrick.

When Gelber began running for Sorrell, whom he had known for two decades, he had no inkling that what he was doing would capture people’s imagination. The first race, the New York City Marathon, was in 2007, when Sorrell was having her first stem cell transplant against the disease. He raised $6,000 for the foundation that day.

He decided to keep running for her and others with myeloma.

“Anita was the beginning of the journey,” he said in a news story the foundation did. “Now it’s become way bigger than me. I hope the film inspires people to get out there and do something for someone else. No matter how big or small, it doesn’t matter. It’s the sum of all our efforts that make the difference.”

Gelber’s Central Park run in September 2016 attracted the attention of people across the country. Hundreds helped him cross the finish line when he faltered.

“Eric’s story illustrates the power when a community comes together with a common purpose,” said Paul Giusti, the foundation’s president and chief executive officer. “The funds donated by Eric’s supporters help the MMRF [foundation] accelerate our efforts to find a cure using our unique precision medicine model. We see a world where every multiple myeloma patient has precisely what they need to prevent or defeat their disease.

“We’re thankful to Celgene, Tribeca Studios as well as Eric and his family for making this documentary possible and helping us drive even greater awareness of multiple myeloma and the need for increased medical research,” Giusti added.

“In just a decade, we have seen a powerful shift in the treatment of multiple myeloma because of research, medical innovation and collaboration,” said Jacqualyn Fouse, former president and current strategic advisor of Celgene. “And, just like Eric, we continue trying to push toward the finish line of an eventual cure. This film sends a powerful message that everybody needs a team, whether you’re a patient, an advocate or a scientist at Celgene. Our journey towards a cure is a collective effort, and we hope that this film inspires others to join the team.”