ALTON – When St. Louis native and 10-year mesothelioma survivor Julie Gundlach talks about people participating in something bigger than themselves, it’s impossible not to believe her. That “something” is the Alton Miles for Meso 5K Race & 3K Fun Run/Walk scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24.
Presented by national law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy and Metro Tri Club, the event coincides with National Mesothelioma Awareness Day on Sept. 26 and benefits the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), a charity dedicated to preventing asbestos-related diseases by securing an asbestos ban in the United States.
“Miles for Meso means that somebody has my back, and somebody is amplifying my voice against the use of asbestos and the industry of corporate greed,” said Gundlach, who received a prognosis of six to 12 months to live after her diagnosis ten years ago. Since then, she has traveled to New York to undergo 4 surgeries and over dozens of chemotherapy treatments to fight the cancer.
Each year, more than 10,000 Americans die from asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma. Asbestos companies knew about the dangers of asbestos since the 1930s, but they remained silent and used the deadly toxin anyway. Today, asbestos, while highly regulated, is still not banned in the United States.
“Asbestos needs to be banned and the loop holes in the law that allow for certain products to still contain asbestos need to be closed,” Gundlach said. “It’s unacceptable that thousands of people are still getting sick from asbestos.”
The Alton Miles for Meso 5K race is about amplifying the voices of people like Gundlach who are fighting for a ban. Earlier this year, Gundlach and several other mesothelioma patients traveled to Washington, D.C., to share their stories during a Congressional Briefing organized by ADAO.
In June 2016, President Obama signed into law The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act that reforms the TSCA and empowers the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate or ban substances like asbestos.
“Julie (Gundlach) is only one person, but through her work, a difference is being made,” said Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder John Barnerd, who was Gundlach’s mesothelioma attorney.
Gundlach has attended every Alton Miles for Meso race and plans to be at the starting line again this year when the race kicks off at 9 a.m. at the Simmons Hanly Conroy national headquarters, One Court Street, across from Marquette High School.
Registration costs $30 and will run through Sept. 19, followed by late registration for $35 up until the race day. In-person registration is available at Simmons Hanly Conroy. Registration on-site the day of the race will begin at 7:30 a.m. All who register will receive a long sleeve, moisture-wicking race T-shirt.
Gundlach will speak at the 8:30 a.m. Welcome Ceremony before the race, as she has done at every Alton Miles for Meso, sharing her story and inspiring racers. To read more about Gundlach’s story, visit http://www.simmonsfirm.com/blog/join-mesothelioma-survivor-julie-gundlach-alton-miles-meso-5k/.
Among this year’s Alton Miles for Meso attractions:
• Cash prizes (ranging from $50 to $500 each) and trophies for the top five overall men and women 5K race
• Custom Miles for Meso medals awarded to the first, second and third place finishers in 5-year age groups.
• Recognition for the top fundraising team and individual.
• Expanded Alton Miles for Meso Virtual Race that allows virtual participants to purchase race T-shirts, and share photos of themselves wearing the shirts on race day via social media and the hashtag #milesformeso. A jumbotron at the race site will display the social media posts throughout the race in real time. Virtual Race registration costs $30 and includes the T-shirt and shipping fees.
• A performance by Jordan Zevon, ADAO spokesman and son of Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Warren Zevon, who passed away from mesothelioma in 2003.
• A kids’ game zone.
• A dog adoption event hosted by Hope Rescues.
• A vendor fair with local businesses and charities.
The 2015 Alton Miles for Meso drew more than 800 people and raised over $30,000. Other Miles for Meso races have taken place in U.S. cities from New York to Florida to Washington state and several locations in between. The Bruce A. Waite Miles for Meso 5K will take place in Ontario, Ohio, on the Sunday before the Alton race. Since 2009, the combined events have raised nearly $500,000 to benefit mesothelioma research and awareness.
For additional information about Miles for Meso, visit www.milesformeso.org. Supporters also can visit the Miles for Meso fan page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Miles.for.Meso/?ref=ts.
— From the Illinois Business Journal