San Francisco 5K Walk/Run
|Support Squadra Pompa|
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is delighted to recognize team Squadra Pompa as the MMRF Spirit of Hope Honoree at the 2017 MMRF Team for Cures: San Francisco 5K Walk/Run.
Posted March 2017
Team Squadra Pompa is co-captained by patient Leonard Pompa and his sister and caregiver, Cristina Pompa. Leonard was in his late 40s when he was diagnosed in October 2010. About one year later, Leonard received an autologous stem cell transplant. Leonard recovered well from the transplant and was in remission for approximately 3 years. He is currently taking care of business by receiving his required regiments, and working closely with his oncologist Dr. Rakesh Bhutani, which he has been with since his initial diagnosis.
He has persevered through this sickness by staying informed on the latest information and updates on myeloma, being an active member in the San Francisco Bay Area Multiple Myeloma Support Group, and staying active in the daily pastimes that are meaningful to him. He is currently still working full time and takes vacations scheduled around his infusions as able. Squadra Pompa not only participates in honor of Leonard, but also in memory of their Uncle Jose and his mother who both passed away from this difficult disease. The fact that this multiple myeloma is so prevalent in their family makes their desire for a cure even stronger.
After Leonard’s diagnosis, Cristina and Leonard did a lot of research and found that educating and informing themselves about the disease and treatment was an important part of helping their family cope with the diagnosis. This research is what led Cristina to discover the MMRF as well as the MMRF San Francisco 5K Walk/Run. When they decided to sign up in 2012, neither of them had ever fundraised before so they formed a team of 15 people, mostly comprised of immediate family and close friends. Leonard and his friends had a team named Squadra that participated in after work activities like bowling and bocce ball, so when they decided to form a team they went with the name Squadra Pompa.
When they saw how special and intimate this event was, being that it was just for people connected to myleoma, they fell in love with it and all it had to offer. Cristina says “being a family member of someone who has myeloma can be frustrating because there is only so much you can do to combat this disease, but with an event like this, it allows you to channel that energy into raising awareness and funding towards a cure and I have found it to be very therapeutic.” They encourage people to not only donate, but to join them in having a good time while crossing the finish line for a cure. This year will be their sixth year participating! They average more than 80 team members and are growing every year.
They have fun making signs and team gear, such as head bands and water bottles to get them in the team spirit! Every year Squadra Pompa packs their tent with goodies that they share with any and all participants. One of their long standing traditions is that they always welcome any newly diagnosed patients to come by and enjoy all the treats and goodies they have to offer. They feel a great sense of community at these events, and as Leonard says, “it may be our tent team but as far as I’m concerned we are all in this together and you are all on my team as well.”
One of the things that makes this team such a great example of the spirit of hope is their optimism. Leonard always tells people to never look at multiple myeloma as something that will stop or slow you down. He says the best regiment is getting out there and living life like normal. As Leonard says “every day that I get to wake up is a good day” and he and Cristina plan to make the best of it.
Cristina, Leonard, and their team are very humbled to receive this award and say that it pushes them to continue with their goal of raising awareness and funding in hopes of finding a cure. Leonard has expressed his extreme gratitude for the MMRF as well as his gratitude towards support group facilitator Jack Aiello and all the health care providers who are dedicated to this cause. “Cristina and I are so honored by this award along with heavy emotion on my end” says Leonard. He adds “Even if Team Squadra Pompa is here to receive this award we want to let all of you looking up here know that you, all of you are also on this team, we are all in this together, you are all Squadra Pompa.”
The MMRF works tirelessly to find a cure to extend the lives of patients and is proud to honor Squadra Pompa as the 2017 recipient of the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award. This award is given at every MMRF 5K Walk/Run event to a person who inspires hope and shows extraordinary commitment to the MMRF. Leonard and Cristina have touched the myeloma community with their strength of character, kindness, and embodiment of hope.