Last year, Mark Wells of Mechanicville set out to gather some kayakers in support of research for mesothelioma, a rare cancer that his daughter Linda, 26, has been battling for more than a decade.
Wells wound up with a handful of folks willing to hit the Hudson River with him for Kayaking 4 a Cure, and this year he aims to change that number in a big way. The event, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 22, will benefit the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Alexandria, Va.
“My main concern is that funding for cancer is lopsided,` said Wells adding that when it comes to earmarking money for mesothelioma, there is perhaps less exposure for it than other cancers.
He said a kayaking event seemed like a good option for a fundraiser because it was something different than walks or runs.
“I fell in love with it (kayaking) and had seen a lot of other people doing events, and thought, ‘Why not kayaking?’ It seems like people are liking the idea,” said Wells.
Kayakers (single or tandem) can choose to launch from Schuylerville (at 8 a.m.) or Stillwater (at noon) and paddle their way to the Mechanicville boat dock. Non-kayaking supporters can also meet up at the Mechanicville dock to wait for paddlers and take part in family-friendly activities from 1-4 p.m.
According to Maja Belamaric, director of communications for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, based in Alexandria, Virginia, the disease is the result of asbestos exposure and affects the lining of the body’s organs. It strikes approximately 3,000 people every year and around the same number succumb to the disease.
She said the foundation aims to eradicate mesothelioma and the suffering it causes, and inform patients and their families about the disease, as well as provide them with resources.
“If you search the web for mesothelioma, you’re inundated with information. Some of its useful, most is not,” Belamaric said. “Patients and families need assurance and information like where to go for treatment.”
Curemeso.com cites four forms of the disease: pleural (lining of the lungs), peritoneal (abdominal lining), pericardial (lining of the heart) and testicular (testes) mesothelioma. Belamaric said the two most common are pleural and peritoneal.
“Though the average age of mesothelioma is reported to be 70, the face of mesothelioma is changing, with many young adults now being diagnosed,” she said. “It is a national tragedy, which becomes more horrific when one meets these young patients, often with young children, facing the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma.”
Linda Wells was diagnosed at 16 with peritoneal mesothelioma. Since then, she’s undergone six surgeries.
Her father said she is doing pretty good at the moment.
Wells is asking participating survivors of the disease wear red T-shirts. Immediate family members of survivors will wear gray, and all other supporters will wear blue.
“It will tell people who is affected,” he said.
Wells’ event is one of about 50 slated to take place across the country in support of the foundation. Last year there were 30.
So far Wells has about 40 kayakers registered to take part in Kayaking 4 a Cure, with room for plenty more. Registration for the event is open through Aug. 31.
Upstate Kayak Rental is offering a special price for those who would like to rent a kayak for the event. They’ll even provide delivery and pick up of the kayaks. For more on rentals, call Upstate Kayak Rental at 209-1063.
For more information on the event, visit kayaking4acure.org.
For more on the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, visit curemeso.com.