In between optimizing websites and converting visitors into qualified leads, Fathomers take part in a variety of inspiring events. This weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the 4th Annual Miles for Meso walk/run in Alton, Illinois, representing Fathom and supporting mesothelioma awareness. Fathom has sponsored the event the past two years, and I’ve attended both times; the first year as a walker and this time as a racer.
The stage was set for a perfect little trip: I flew into St. Louis Friday night, then drove a half-hour outside of St. Louis, crossing a cute little bridge into the cozy little town of Alton, known for its manufacturing industry as well as being the “the birthplace of the tallest man ever known.” After what seemed like just a few hours of sleep, I was up and ready to go again, sporting my Fathom Online Marketing shirt and a crazy hairdo that screamed “Yep, I just got off the plane.”
At the race, I was surprised to see so many motivated faces of all ages. There was a group of elite runners, many coming from Kenya to compete (there was a separate race for those who were really awesome); there were families who ran together and singles who ran alone with their iPods; there were mesothelioma survivors and families of those who lost their lives to the asbestos-related disease. All were bonded by the drive to spread awareness of the devastating disease that affects nearly 3,000 new victims each year. This number is slowly decreasing as many products containing asbestos have been banned or phased out. However, the impact of asbestos has been detrimental to so many, making the need to raise mesothelioma awareness so great.
When the gunshot rang, I began running, and couldn’t help but notice the many faces on the backs of all the t-shirts, serving as motivation to those running in their memory. Mesothelioma is a rare disease, but an unforgiving one—only about 40% of victims survive one year after being diagnosed; by the second year, less than 20% survive. By the third year, only 10% survive. Both men and women are affected (though men make up about 81% of the cases) and many are older, due to the fact that mesothelioma has a latency period of a decade or longer in most cases. (Asbestos.com)
This year’s Miles for Meso race ended up being a phenomenal success with approximately 730 people registered for the event. It was the most participants the race has ever seen, surpassing last year’s numbers by more than 100 registrants. More importantly, Simmons Firm (the national sponsor) was able to meet its fundraising goal of $25,000, putting the total amount raised for mesothelioma research at $100,000 since the first race began in 2009.
On my way home, I had the chance to reflect on my experience at this year’s Miles for Meso race (my plane was delayed 3 times, so I had a lot of time to think!). Not only do I appreciate the fact that Fathom enabled me to participate in this event, but I also appreciate the power of people dedicated to a cause. This short little anecdote puts it all in perspective:
It was my first 5k, and I was struggling up and down the hilly brick roads of Alton. My legs were burning, my chest was wheezy, and the sweat was dripping off my nose. I thought I wasn’t going to make it to the finish line; in fact, I was convincing myself that slowing down to a walk and just finishing the race would be enough.
That’s when 2 young boys—maybe 14 and 10—whizzed right by me. I remembered seeing them sprint early on in the race, and thinking to myself: “They’ll never make it to the end at that pace.” I don’t know their story, and I don’t know why they were racing or who they were there to support. But the fact that they were there, and the fact that they finished the race really struck me.
Those two young boys motivated me to keep on going, to keep working through the burn, the hills and all other obstacles that would otherwise prevent me from finishing the race. I couldn’t help but compare their energy to all those who work for organizations like the Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation & Simmons Firm; those who fight on behalf of victims who deserve more out of their lives; and of course, those victims forced to fight for their own lives.
It’s not always easy to stand up and fight for a cause…but as the age-old saying goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” I end this blog by opening it up to our readers…what do you stand for, and is there something we at Fathom can do to help support your cause? We’d love to hear your stories.