spirit of hope
Meet Bill McHugh
MMRF Endurance Events
Posted: January, 2014
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) is proud to honor Bill McHugh with the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award at the Empire State Building Run-Up on Wednesday, February 5, 2014. Since his diagnosis in 2008, Bill has been on a worldwide mission to raise awareness and funds for multiple myeloma research. Although multiple myeloma at this time has no cure, Bill is currently in remission and will be taking on the 86 floors of the Empire State Building with the MMRF team at the 2014 race.
“When you first hear that you’ve been diagnosed you can’t comprehend the thoughts that run through your head. The fright, the concern, the personal pity party – the list goes on but at some point you realize there are really only two choices: fight or give up,” Bill shared. “I chose to fight and take this bull by the horns, at first via my blog and later by trying to raise funds and awareness to fight this disease.”
The Empire State Building Run-Up, organized by the New York Road Runners, is one of the most elite tower climbing events in the world. Less than 7,000 people in the race’s 37-year history have earned the bragging rights of reaching the finish line on the Observation Deck, one fourth of a mile above Fifth Avenue. The MMRF enjoys Official Charity status at this ‘bucket list’ event for the fourth year, and as such, receives an exclusive opportunity to fill a wave of 200 spots with MMRF athletes, each of whom is committed to raising a minimum of $2,500 to fund critical cancer research.
Bill has met each step of his myeloma journey with bounding enthusiasm, determination, tenacity and, yes, even humor. Bill lost his hair due to treatment side effects in 2010. In, 2012, when faced with losing his hair again leading up to his stem cell transplant, he decided to “go down in style” and raise funds to support the MMRF in the process. He launched a worldwide campaign, dubbed “Promoting Global Hair Loss”, and raised more than $60,000 – inviting people to shave their heads in a gesture of solidarity and as part of his fundraising effort. When it was all done, more than 25 people had shaved their heads in over six cities from Zurich to Hong Kong.
“I support the MMRF because they are making a difference in the lives of myeloma patients,” Bill stated. “I believe that the work they accomplish will result in a change that will take this disease from mortal to chronic. More importantly, I believe they’ll do this in my lifetime!”
As he climbs the 1,576 steps of the Empire State Building on February 5, 2014, Bill will remember that one year before he was in an isolated hospital room recovering from the brutal stem cell transplant procedure that helped knock his cancer into remission.
Week Without An Elevator
“I’m thrilled to be taking part in the Empire State Building Run-Up because I can! I have three other friends who were going through this same procedure immediately after I did. One of them has had a second transplant and the other two are back on maintenance,” Bill explained. “I’m doing this race because I can – and I’m doing it for them and so many others!”
Bill will celebrate his new “birthday” with his new stem cells, by taking on the incredible physical challenge of the Empire State Building Run-Up and once again tapping into his expanding global network of friends and supporters. He has even managed to convince a couple of his foreign friends to join him on race day.
Hoskuldur (aka Hoss) Hauksson, from Switzerland will run with Bill, having trained on snowy mountain slopes of Wengen in the absence of tall buildings in his hometown of Zurich. Another friend, Christian Mayo, who hails from Australia, will join him at the race as well, rounding out his global team.
Bill has always been physically active. A rugby player for 18 years, here in the States and overseas, he credits his athleticism to helping him face his diagnosis with fortitude. Many of Bill’s international network of rugby players are among his strongest supporters.
Bill works at Bloomberg LP, as the COO for Equity Products in New York City. He is a father of two children and has been married to his wife, Lillian since 1997.
Please help honor Bill McHugh and support the critical mission of the MMRF to accelerate new treatments to lead to a cure.
With an outstanding 90% of the MMRF total budget directed to research and related programming, funds raised through MMRF events like the Empire State Building Run-Up have made a meaningful difference – helping to bring multiple myeloma patients six new treatments that have more than doubled the survival rate.
Bill and Lillian
Bill and Mia, June 2013,
Dilyn and Bill, post harvest in 2009,
The McHugh family on vacation,
Bill's rugby team in Hong Kong after
Bill's Hong Kong rugby team jacket