Published in the Torch, January 2015, page 21.
By Ryan Scofield, IWMF Member, And Don Brown, Support Group Leader, Chicago
Don Brown speaks first, reflecting on his first contact with Ryan.
My introduction to Ryan Scofield began with a phone call in 2010 from a young man––only 35 years old, married and the father of a small son––who had been recently diagnosed with Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia. Ryan was calling me because I am the support group leader of the Chicago area. I am also a fellow WM patient. He had been advised that he needed treatment for his Waldenstrom’s, and he wanted to understand his disease and to connect with our wonderful organization. We met in person when, as a family, Ryan and his wife, Krista, and little Arthur visited our home. Mary and I were very moved to meet the Scofield family and share helpful insights to living with WM. Since that time Ryan has become an informed patient, participating in his treatment decisions, and he has become an active supporter of the IWMF in the Chicago community. Our relationship has grown into a personal friendship. Not too long after his first treatment, Ryan sent me a note with his picture climbing a mountain with Arthur on his back. I still keep that note and photo, together with a graph of his improved IgM and hemoglobin, hanging above my desk.
Ryan has since run the Allstate Chicago Half Marathon in 2012 and, most recently, the prestigious Bank of America Chicago Full Marathon in the fall of 2014. Donations made in support of Ryan and his friends were designated for the IWMF Research Fund and totaled $7,000 in 2012 and $15,000 in 2014. Ryan may not have finished the last race himself, but his community of three other racers did it for him.
Ryan Scofield comments on his role as fundraiser: Following successful treatment for WM, I knew that I had to go further and become part of the solution. Taking treatment and just hoping for the best didn't suit me. So I wanted to do something to help, to be part of the cure for myself and for the people who will be diagnosed in the future. My thought was simple: If I could raise some money for research, I would be supporting my own cure.
I ran the Allstate Half Marathon with some friends and raised almost $7,000 for the IWMF, the organization that has helped me as it has so many others. I was struck by how many people wanted to donate. The donations made in my name didn't end up in a huge pool of money, they went directly to funding research for Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia through the IWMF Research Fund.
After my success in putting together the Half Marathon fundraiser all by myself, I realized that I might do even better if I registered as an official charity at a more prestigious event. So, for my second time around I built a small team including Billy McMillin, Jarad Bingham, Terry Bingham, Nadia Burke, and myself. We were shooting for a full marathon in one of the world's biggest, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and the team ran it. As an official charity, we raised even more money! Again people were “falling over themselves” to donate money going to the IWMF.
My takeaway from this experience is that we can all be a part of the cure. Anyone can set up a fundraiser and ask their friends for money. You'll get it and your friends will be happy to help. And you will know that you did something to fight back against this disease and give real exposure to Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, a disease no one has ever heard about.