‘Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma’ Hikes Grand Canyon to Raise Research Money

Inês Martins, PhD avatar

by Inês Martins, PhD |

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Grand Canyon MM hike

Three organizations — CURE Media Group, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and Takeda Oncology — joined together in the Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma fundraiser to support multiple myeloma (MM) research. As a recent second event in this program, 12 MM patients, doctors, family members, and caregivers hiked the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon, helping to raise the program’s total to $275,000.

“Not many scientists get the opportunity to get out of the lab to meet patients they are working so hard to help. I’m honored to be a part of this team of patients, myeloma medical professionals, and caregivers. While we continue to make tremendous progress in our fight against cancer, we always need to do more, and we know it will take a collective effort to achieve our aspiration to cure cancer,” Karuppiah Kannan,, Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ associate director who took part in the Grand Canyon trek, said in a news release.

Bright Angel Trail is one of the most challenging and iconic hikes in the U.S., which less than 1 percent of the over 5 million people who visit the Grand Canyon each year actually attempt. The Southern Rim trail has over 4,300 feet of vertical up and down hiking to be completed in one day, plus the added challenge of considerable temperature changes at different elevations.

“The participating patients with multiple myeloma inspire hope and provide a real demonstration that multiple myeloma is not insurmountable,” said Mike Hennessey Jr., president of CURE Media. “The Grand Canyon Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma is bringing together these patients, doctors, family members and supporters for a cause that will positively affect the path that many with myeloma face every day, as well as the path of people yet to be diagnosed.”

According to the release, this year’s team included three MM patients:

  • Frédéric Gobry – from Mountain View, California
    • Frédéric was diagnosed two years ago, with extensive bone damage along his spine. The self-described ‘non-athletic type’ was joined by his wife, Véronique, and their 11-year-old daughter, Erin.
  • Donna Cowan – from Folsom, California
    • Donna was diagnosed in September 2013, shortly after turning 70, and took the hike with her husband, Bud, who is also her caregiver, to exemplify the life message she taught her children: “pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start all over again.”
  • Jennifer DeChello – from Wallingford, Connecticut
    • Jennifer was diagnosed with MM in January 2015, after years of head and neck pain, double vision, vision loss and painful tongue spasms. “To go from where I was a year ago to this hike is a miracle,” said Jennifer, who was joined on the hike by her son, George.

“The MMRF continues to lead collaborative, cutting-edge scientific efforts to conduct multiple myeloma research, with a particular emphasis in the promising area of precision medicine,” said Paul Giusti, MMRF’s president and chief executive officer. “Working with our partners at Takeda and CURE, we’re able to create awareness and help generate the necessary funds to support this important research. What is particularly gratifying is to see multiple myeloma patients working side-by-side with us, battling their disease and taking positive steps to bring us ever closer to a cure.”

Upcoming hikes in the program include a climb at Machu Picchu, Aug. 9–14, and at Mount Kilimanjaro in February 2017.

MM is a form of blood cancer. Despite recent progress in developing new treatments, more funding is needed as work continues in pursuit of a cure. Every dollar the Moving Mountains teams raise goes to support MMRF’s research efforts.