Local and National Stars Honored at the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) 12th Annual Chicago Awards Dinner to Raise Urgent Funds for Cancer Research

Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Featured as MMRF Spirit of Hope Award Recipient and Derrick Blakley, CBS 2 Chicago Reporter, Highlighted as Patient Speaker

Norwalk, CT — April 13, 2012

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was proud to honor Pat Williams, Senior Vice President of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, with the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award at the 12th Annual MMRF Chicago Awards Dinner, held April 10, 2012, at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. The MMRF Spirit of Hope Award is presented annually to an individual who inspires hope with perseverance in overcoming personal obstacles such as a cancer diagnosis. This premier event was attended by more than 400 Chicago business and community leaders and raised over $900,000 to support the MMRF’s efforts to accelerate the development of next-generation treatments for multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the MMRF – an organization that is leading the way to finding a cure for multiple myeloma,” said Williams. “By raising awareness and research funds through events like this, we can help the MMRF bring patients new treatments so urgently needed.”

Bonnie Hunt, famed actress, writer, producer and director and a member of the MMRF Honorary Board of Directors, served as Mistress of Ceremonies for her tenth year. Hunt grew up in Chicago and worked as an oncology nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital prior to pursuing her entertainment career. She has been a longtime supporter and friend of the MMRF. Derrick Blakley, General Assignment Reporter at CBS 2 Chicago, joined the evening’s celebrity line-up by serving as the evening’s Patient Speaker. Blakley, a Chicago native and a five-time Emmy award winner, shared his personal journey with multiple myeloma.

“The MMRF is truly grateful to Bonnie Hunt, Lester Knight, Pat Williams, Karyn Williams and Derrick Blakley for uniting in support of the multiple myeloma patients and families courageously fighting this devastating disease and for standing by our side while we work to bring patients the next treatments they urgently need,” said Walter Capone, Chief Operating Officer of the MMRF.

Funds raised through the MMRF Chicago Awards Dinner will help expand the portfolio of promising myeloma therapies by funding innovative research, collaborations and initiatives. Significant achievements made possible by events such as the MMRF Chicago Awards Dinner include opening 38 clinical trials with 21 novel treatments, sequencing the multiple myeloma genome and initiating CoMMpass℠ – a groundbreaking, landmark study designed to uncover the molecular segments and variations in multiple myeloma. The most ambitious study of its kind in multiple myeloma, the CoMMpass study is the cornerstone of the MMRF’s larger Personalized Medicine Initiative.

“The MMRF has made unprecedented progress in the fight against myeloma. This annual dinner is a way for the Chicago community to celebrate the remarkable advancements achieved by the MMRF while also raising significant funds to make the next breakthrough in treatment possible,” said Lester Knight, Founding Partner and Co-Chairman of RoundTable Healthcare Partners and Corporate Chair of the MMRF Chicago Awards Dinner.

Upcoming MMRF events in the Chicagoland area include teams for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 22, 2012 and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 7, 2012. Additionally, the MMRF will hold the Ann Landers MMRF Race for Research: Chicago 5K Walk/Run in September 2012. For more information on MMRF events, please visit: www.themmrf.org/events.

About the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was established in 1998 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti, soon after Kathy's diagnosis with multiple myeloma. The mission of the MMRF is to relentlessly pursue innovative means that accelerate the development of next-generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure. As the world's number-one private funder of multiple myeloma research, the MMRF has raised over $190 million since its inception and directs 90% of total budget to research and related programming. As a result, the MMRF has been awarded Charity Navigator’s coveted four star rating for nine consecutive years, the highest designation for outstanding fiscal responsibility and exceptional efficiency. For more information about the MMRF, please visit www.themmrf.org.

About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer. The five-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 38 percent, one of the lowest of all cancers. In 2012, more than 20,000 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and nearly 11,000 people are predicted to die from the disease.

Media Contacts
Anne Quinn Young, MPH