Land and sea mission to cure leukemia


THE LEUKEMIA & Lymphoma Society of Maryland will take to the land and sea in the next few weeks in a variety of efforts to fund its programs.

"If we could find a way to raise money in the air we would do it," said Barbara S. Van Wambeke of the Leukemia Society.

Van Wambeke oversees one of the land-based programs, Team in Training. "Team in Training is the world's largest endurance training program," she said. "Last year, Team in Training nationwide raised over $73 million for the mission of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society."

That mission, she added, is "to cure leukemia and its blood-related cancers, while improving the quality of life for patients and their families."

Her training program holds up the quality of life portion of the mission. It's open to anyone, she said. "Our Annapolis training group has been in existence since 1997 under the guidance of running coach Sandy Balderson and walk coach Deb Langseth. Currently, the Annapolis run/walk training group meets every weekend on the B&A; Trail."

Training offers an opportunity for exercise and fund raising. Consider Louise Williams of Beverly Beach, who learned she had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1996.

"My hairdresser noticed a lump on the back of my head," she said. "I had surgery, and it was discovered that it was malignant."

Williams has undergone a variety of treatments and describes her current medical condition as "indolent." She works at ARINC in Annapolis doing market research.

"I wanted to start off gradually," she said of Team in Training, working with Langseth. "I was hesitant at first. I didn't know how I was going to do walking because of the shape I was in."

She's walking well enough to enter the Mayor's Midnight Sun Half-Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska, on June 23. "Going to Alaska has always been a dream of mine," she said. To qualify for the event, a walk of 13.1 miles, she had to raise $4,200.

"I sent out a letter to everyone I knew, family and friends, and I worked with mailing lists online," she said. She raised more than $7,000. The connections she made online, she added, were of special value to her. "It's better to have contact with someone who's going through the same thing."

The nautical program is an ambitious one.

There's Powerboat Day on the Bay on June 2 and the Volvo Leukemia Cup Regatta for sailboats on June 9. These events are co-chaired by Nancy Elsaesser of Severna Park and Kellie Ladd of Annapolis.

Powerboat Day is more traditionally known as the Poker Run. Skippers, all of whom have made donations to participate, go to various stops around the middle Chesapeake where they pick up envelopes with cards in them. Holders of the best hands win prizes at the inevitable big party at the Miles River Yacht Club in St. Michaels.

On June 9, Baltimore sailors will stage a race from Key Bridge to Bay Bridge to the Leukemia Cup on June 9, sort of a race to a race. The Leukemia Cup will follow with competition for 13 classes of boats.

The Leukemia Cup started in Annapolis in 1993 when about $35,000 was raised, said Nancy Noyes, who was involved with its launching. "Last year, nationally, there were maybe 41 Leukemia Cups that raised more than $3 million," she said.

Ladd explained that the events in these parts are flanked, before and after, with fund-raising auctions, wine tastings and parties, which, of course, are essential for people with boats.

She spoke Friday after helping a friend who had just undergone treatment for breast cancer. "You see friends around you with this hideous disease, and you just want to do something to help," she said.

Others can help by calling the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Baltimore at 800-242-4572 or 410- 825-2500. Boaters, power and sail, are advised to call the Eastport Yacht Club's hot line at 410-263-0415 for information.

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