Myeloma Patients, Advocates Trek to Mt. Everest’s Doorstep to Raise Awareness

Inês Martins, PhD avatar

by Inês Martins, PhD |

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Mount Everest

To raise awareness of multiple myeloma and funding for research, 18 patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals have embarked on a challenging ascent to Mount Everest Base Camp, from March 3-16.

The trek aims to support the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma Program (MM4MM), a joint fundraising effort of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), CURE Media Group, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

So far, MM4MM has raised over $1.45 million to support the development of myeloma treatments and to advance research. The Mount Everest Base Camp trek is MM4MM’s 7th expedition since its inception in 2016.

“We are so inspired by this team, especially the seven patients who are able to take on this epic challenge. We are grateful to Takeda and CURE for their continued support of the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma program. Funds raised by programs like these help the MMRF continue to accelerate precision medicine-based therapies which can help identify the best treatment for every patient,” Paul Giusti, MMRF CEO and president, said in a press release.

The Mount Everest Base Camp journey will take hikers to the summit of Kalapathhar, at an altitude of 18,519 ft. above sea level. The nine-day challenge will be made by a team of seven myeloma patients, including Jennifer Davis, from Kalamazoo, Michigan; Mark Herkert, from Seattle, Washington; JP Kealy, from Wilton, Connecticut; Ben Marcus, from Madison, Wisconsin; John Raithel, from Grosselle, Michigan; Stan Wagner, of Brooklyn, New York; and Kirk Wilkerson, of Bostic, North Carolina.

“Seeing these people go through such a compelling journey is truly inspiring,” said Michael J. Hennessy Jr., president of a parent company of CURE Media Group. “We are proud to once again be a part of this initiative and we hope to ultimately eliminate this disease.”

In May 2016, the second trek of the MM4MM program challenged 12 patients, caregivers, and physicians to hike the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon, with a goal of raising $275,000. Later that year, in August, another team climbed Machu Picchu in Peru. In February 2017, MM4MM traveled to Mount Kilimanjaro.

MM4MM was created to take on challenging mountains in an effort to demonstrate that medical advancements being made in recent years, funded and spearheaded by the MMRF, are helping patients live longer and better than ever before.