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Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) Has Community, National Impact


Norwalk-Based Foundation is National Leader in Cancer Research, Drug Development

Norwalk, CT — May 13, 2010

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), located in Norwalk, serves as a wealth of knowledge, support and a beacon of hope for families in our community in the battle against multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. While the MMRF is based locally, the organization is recognized nationally as a leader in breaking down barriers slowing medical research and accelerating the development of life-extending treatments. The four drugs the MMRF helped bring to market for multiple myeloma are now being used as treatments or tested in more than 30 other cancers.

Stephanie Miller, a New Canaan resident currently enrolled at the University of Rhode Island, will intern at the MMRF this summer and assist with the upcoming MMRF Race for Research – Tri-State: 5K Walk/Run on Sunday, June 13, at New Canaan High School. Stephanie is looking forward to not only learning about the business of operating a nonprofit organization but also making a personal impact in the search for a cure of the disease with which her aunt, Brooke Roberts was recently diagnosed.

Brooke resides in Florida, yet will benefit from the work of the MMRF. By working closely with researchers, clinicians and partners in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, the MMRF helped bring to market four new treatments that have helped to double the life expectancy for multiple myeloma patients like Brooke. As Stephanie explained, “My aunt was recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma, so this race is just one way that I can help the Foundation that is helping her.” Additionally, in lieu of gifts for her 19th birthday, Stephanie generously asked that her family and friends make donations to the MMRF.

Another New Canaan resident, Kendra Saddler-Hsu, had supported the MMRF and Race for Research – Tri-State for years when her sister, Karyn, who was living in Atlanta, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008. After placing a call to New Canaan resident Kathy Giusti, Founder and CEO of the MMRF and a multiple myeloma patient, Karyn received a referral to a leading multiple myeloma expert at Emory who otherwise had a full schedule.

Since then, the MMRF has remained in close contact with both Kendra and Karyn to ensure continuity and coordination of care. Karyn’s kidney function is significantly impaired- common among multiple myeloma patients - which limits her eligibility for clinical trials and benefit from certain therapies, but is counting on the MMRF to bring high-risk patients like herself new, targeted treatments that effectively treat the disease. “Words cannot express how much it means to know that the MMRF is working so hard to make sure my sister and other patients get the treatments they need,” said Kendra. The two sisters will attend the MMRF Race for Research – Tri-State later this spring.

The MMRF currently holds Race for Research events in eight locations nationwide: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tri-State (New Canaan, Conn.), Twin Cities and Washington, D.C. The series of events attracts more than 16,000 participants who raise awareness and funds for multiple myeloma research. In 2009 alone, $1.8 million was raised through the Race for Research program to fund the development of next-generation treatments for patients.

Many teams return year after year to participate in these annual events. Bridget Robustelli, a New Canaan resident, has participated in the MMRF Race for Research – Tri-State since the inaugural event in 2004. Originally, Bridget joined the event in support of Kathy Giusti, a dear friend. Bridget’s involvement took on new meaning in 2007 when her mother-in-law, Jean Robustelli of Stamford, was also diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The Robustelli family returns to the MMRF’s Race for Research – Tri-State race every year to honor the people that they love. Bridget noted, “The race brings the family together for a great cause. We will always do it for Kathy and Nana.”

Elizabeth Granath, also from New Canaan, will attend her second Race for Research – Tri-State race this year in honor of her mother, Barbara, who passed away from multiple myeloma. Barbara resided in Florida, and, with the help of the MMRF, was referred to a local hematologist-oncologist, as well as a leading expert in Boston, to oversee her care.

“My favorite moment in the race is passing through the finish line because I feel I have helped to build both awareness of multiple myeloma and the growing need to continue fighting for a cure,” said Elizabeth. “My mother – who before her diagnosis played tennis, ran, skied, and spent countless hours in yoga, Pilates and aerobics classes – lost her ability to walk early on with this disease. I walk for her and all those affected by multiple myeloma’s negative physical effects, especially the loss of one’s natural ability to stand on one’s legs and walk.” You can help the MMRF bring patients the next-generation of treatments. Form a team today for the MMRF Race for Research – Tri-State. Pre-register online before June 10, 2010, to secure your MMRF Race for Research t-shirt at www.MMRFrace.org. You can also register in person at the event. For more information, please contact: events@themmrf.org or 203-229-0464.

About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer. The five-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 34 percent, one of the lowest of all cancers. In 2009, approximately 20,000 adults in the United States were diagnosed with multiple myeloma and approximately 11,000 people died from the disease.

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 $140 million since its inception to fund nearly 120 laboratories worldwide. An outstanding 93% of funds raised go toward research and related programming. The MMRF has supported 40 new compounds and approaches in clinical trials and pre-clinical studies and has facilitated 24 clinical trials through its sister organization, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC). For more information about the MMRF, please visit www.themmrf.org.