LOS ANGELES, CA (March 1, 2002) The dedicated student sat at her computer and pondered her homework assignment. The task at hand? An essay. The topic? Hope. An Internet search engine quickly guided her to the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) and its "Ribbon of Hope" campaign. Catching her interest, she began to read.
Multiple myeloma is a little-known, devastating cancer of the bone marrow for which there is presently no known cure. Myeloma destroys the bone, leaving patients so fragile, a simple sneeze might result in a fractured rib. At any given time, there are approximately 75,000-100,000 myeloma patients in the United States. Each year, more than 14,500 new cases of myeloma will be diagnosed. Myeloma is more common in men than in woman, and African American men represent the highest risk group. While the average age of onset was once 65-years-old, many of todays patients are being diagnosed in their 50s, 40s and even 30s.
For 16-year-old Julie Iodice, currently a junior at Sharon High School, the information not only shocked her, but jolted her into action. Prior to finding the IMFs website, Julie had never even heard of myeloma, much less known anyone with the crippling disease. Yet, this didnt stop her wanting to get involved. She quickly composed a heart-felt email to the IMF, expressing her interest in lending a hand to help support its efforts.
Her message was quickly answered by IMF President, Susie Novis.
"All of us at the Foundation were so touched by Julies email," said Novis. "It was so inspiring to see a young person wanting to do something to help others. She doesnt even know anyone with myeloma, but she still wants to help those people who have it."
Julie successfully solicited the support of her fellow students, teachers and school administrators and together, they organized the first March Madness fundraiser in 2001. The basketball bonanza had students of each grade battling it out on the court, with the final and much-anticipated game showcasing students against faculty. When the last shot had been made, the students may have won the game, but everyone involved was a winner, and thanks to booming ticket sales and corporate sponsorships, the students of Sharon High School made a $2,000 donation to the International Myeloma Foundation.
As March Madness quickly approaches, Iodice and her fellow students are eager to top the success of last years basketball fundraiser.
"Were honored that Julie and her classmates have chosen to host another fundraiser. The IMF is about people helping people, and these kids are a perfect example of that," said Novis.
This years March Madness tournament at Sharon High School will take place on March 15th, 2002. Tickets are $3 each and will be available at the door. Those wishing to send a donation in support of Julies efforts can send checks payable to the International Myeloma Foundation to the following address:
Sharon High School "March Madness"
C/o International Myeloma Foundation
12650 Riverside Dr., Ste. 206
North Hollywood, CA 91607