WAMP swim-a-thons raise over $40,000
February of 2001, my dad, Jeffrey Stafford, had surgery for a compression fracture in his upper spine. The surgery revealed a tumor. After further testing, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He was 45 years old.
I am the eldest of four siblings: I am now 23, Julianne is 20, Christopher is 17, and Courtney is 16. At the time of my dad's diagnosis, I was away at college. It was hard, as it would be for anybody, to find out that your dad has a rare form of cancer. But, just as every step throughout the last five years, our family tried to take things in stride. My dad started treatment for his myeloma, and his doctor referred our family to the IMF.
We went online and learned a lot about myeloma and the IMF. We were really impressed by all that the Foundation does—its programs in education and outreach are excellent! And, because of my strong interest in government and politics, the One Voice Against Cancer advocacy event in Washington, DC, was a natural way for me to get involved with the IMF. But it's fair to say that for our family, the scientific search for a cure is most crucial.
We are an active family, very involved in our community of West Hartford, CT, and we knew that we had to take some action. It's just not like us to sit around doing nothing. By the time June approached, we had decided to hold a swim-a-thon, hosted at the WAMP country club where my family has had a membership since the 1960s, and where I was volunteering as a swim coach.
We reached out to the pool director and club manager, and also contacted family and friends to ask them to help sponsor the event. Several local vendors stepped forward to donate food for the event and prizes for the raffle. The country club was very generous by giving us a "free guest" day, so many of the participants brought along their friends and relatives. In total, about 80 swimmers participating in our first all-day event!
At the time, we weren't looking ahead but three more WAMP swim-a-thons followed. Being away at school, I was more of a ringleader when it came to organizing the events. My three siblings did a lot of the legwork and, as they got older, they took on more responsibility in representing the IMF and our family within our community. Also, with each event, we gained experience and expanded our local support base. More people were more willing to contribute and participate.
The WAMP swim-a-thon is a community event. Our local bagel shop has donated bagels for all four fundraisers. Most of the other vendors who contribute are from Connecticut. Many of our supporters know my dad. But the circle of support keeps getting bigger. A couple of years ago, when I was on Cape Cod, a saw a beach stroller wearing our fundraiser T-shirt!
To date, the four WAMP swim-a-thon events have raised more than $40,000—enough to fund a grant in my dad's honor through the IMF research program. Our family plans to continue our efforts to help fund myeloma research in hopes for a cure for my dad and many others like him. As we continue to face this difficult battle, we are so impressed, bolstered, and humbled by the continued support we receive from our community, both locally and through the IMF.
IMF Research Grant Awarded in Honor of Jeffrey Stafford
“Targeting different active sites of proteasomes in multiple myeloma cells”
Dr. Alexei F. Kisselev
Norris Cotton Cancer Center
Hanover, New Hampshire
The goal of this project is to determine whether inhibition of the chymotrypsin-like sites alone is sufficient to induce the death of multiple myeloma tumor cells, and to develop specific cell-permeable inhibitors of the trypsin-like sites.