Miles Over Melanoma 2009
"We Are Doing The Right Thing"
On May 9, 2009, Our M.O.M., Inc. was honored to host the Second Annual Miles Over Melanoma in St. Louis, MO. We are pleased to say, just like last year, it was a huge success. With the support of over 600 participants, volunteers and sponsors, we raised $35,000! Also similar to last year, heavy rains hit St. Louis for weeks before the event. There were times of panic about the potential flooding, but we stayed focused and determined to succeed for our cause. We dedicated ourselves to fighting melanoma, and nothing, especially the weather, was going to get in our way. Around 9:30 that morning, we saw our months of hard work pay off as hundreds of people gathered to support the fight against melanoma. We always worked hard for our mom, and that will never end. We could feel her praise all day. Before she passed away she said she never wanted anyone else to suffer like she did, and we are determined, as we always have been, to fulfill her wish.
The day was wonderful. The rain stopped and the sky cleared. Registration went smoothly. Our family friend Father Ted delivered a beautifully moving prayer once again. The music was perfect and lunch was delicious. Hundreds of supporters of all ages were ready to run or walk. They were decorated in our orange 8 ribbons, and each child carried an orange balloon. Smiles were everywhere.
However, not everything was the same as last year. If you read last year’s event summary, you will read how incredibly moving the event was because so many friends and family gathered to honor our mom. This year was equally moving for that reason, but we also experienced something additional. We now realize that we are making a difference in the fight against melanoma. We are doing the right thing. We are reaching more and more people. There were so many new faces, young and old. There were families remembering their loved ones who lost their battle to melanoma. There were melanoma fighters with their families.
An amazing group of 25 walked in memory of Katie, their 18-year-old sister, cousin, daughter, and friend. Following the walk, her Aunt Patricia wrote, "I felt compelled to write and tell you that we all so enjoyed our walk with everyone who attended this event and by attending and donating to this cause, it helped our family by showing us that we are not alone." She went on to write about the very inspiration we have felt the last two years. "Attending the walk inspired all of us to do more to help make people more aware of this disease and to encourage everyone we know to do whatever they can to avoid becoming a victim."
A very kind and determined husband and father who is fighting melanoma walked with his family. We made sure to connect with this family throughout the day. After the walk his wife wrote, "The honor was ours to not just support such an amazing event but to be in the company of an amazing family who share a passion for waging this war against this deadly disease that has impacted our families and so many lives around us."
We were extremely honored to meet a very strong young woman who, although fighting the advanced stages of melanoma, traveled here from across the state. Angela, a 24-year-old who is fighting Stage IV melanoma, came in from Kansas City to walk with her friends. After the walk, her friend said, "We had a wonderful time on Saturday, Angela really enjoyed it! We will definitely come every year!"
There were many people walking in memory of loved ones. Unfortunately we shared something in common with another group that walked in memory of their dad who just lost his battle in April. Like our mom, Ron Seitrich fought hard for two years. In a very nice email, his daughter Jen wrote, "I wanted to personally thank you for organizing this fundraiser. I came upon your website by accident as I did not know that such a run existed. I just lost my father to metastatic melanoma on 4/7/2009. I wanted to thank you for this opportunity to help find a cure and to honor my father and your mother."
Our mom would have helped every single person and family I mentioned. We are fighting melanoma in her honor. We want to save the lives of other moms, dads, brothers, sisters, and friends. And we will.
The proof that we are doing the right thing wasn’t only in the attendance number, or the money we raised, but when we looked at our educational booths that day, we were convinced. The Prevent and Detect Booths were packed all day. People applied sunscreen all day long. There were always people waiting to ask dermatologist Dr. Breer questions about suspicious spots on their skin, or what changes to look for on their skin. He gave a lot of recommendations and advice. And people listened. We are educating people on melanoma and the importance of prevention and detection. We are getting people to wear more sunscreen. We are getting people to check their skin. We are sending people to the doctor for annual skin exams. We will keep working to reach more people, because as always, we are fulfilling our mom’s wish.
After the success of the event in 2008, we made a $10,000 donation to Melanoma Research Foundation. Tim Turnham, PhD, the Executive Director of the MRF, wrote, "This commitment will make a significant difference in our ability to fund research, and to educate and advocate on behalf of patients affected by melanoma. Each year, the MRF is able to provide emerging and established scientific investigators with highly sought-after grants that allow them to explore new avenues in melanoma biology. This investment in basic science is beginning to pay off with new approaches to treatment being tested in clinical trials."
Thanks to our many supporters and sponsors, we will be able to make another sizable donation to research this year. Thank you for helping us realize that we are doing the right thing.