Stop Mesothelioma Advocate of the Month for December 2011 is Missy Dorsey Bowles
December 13, 2011 - Missy Dorsey Bowles is taking a stand. Driven by faith and the memory of her father, she has become one of the most passionate advocates of mesothelioma research and awareness in her home state of West Virginia, having raised close to $30,000 in the last two years for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. For her inspiring display of determination and altruism, she is the Stop Mesothelioma Advocate of the Month for December 2011.
On June 13, 2008, Missy and her family received the devastating news that her father, Richard Dorsey, had been diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. "We knew what that meant," Missy said, recalling the harrowing moment. "It was like a knife through our stomachs." Mr. Dorsey died a few short weeks later. He was 65 years old.
Like so many others who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma, Missy and her family were distraught by Richard's death. But for Missy, the fight was not about to end with her father. Instead, frustrated with the glaring lack of medical research on the illness, and bent on promoting a broader public knowledge of its existence, she decided it was time to take action: "I thought, 'Hey, I lost my Dad, but we need to keep fighting for the other people.'"
And as a devout Christian, Missy's faith solidified the path she needed to take. "I felt like God spoke to me," she said. "He said, 'This is your journey. This is what you need to do.'"
From that moment, Missy went on to form ROD's Benefit for Mesothelioma, the annual charity that has become the touchstone of Missy's crusade against mesothelioma. Founded in 2010 as a tribute to her father (R.O.D. are Richard's initials), the event - which features a 5K walk, a gospel sing-along, and a silent auction - attracted nearly 100 supporters and raised $13,000 dollars in its first year, with all proceeds going to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. Missy built the benefit from the ground up, doing the bulk of the organizing, advertising and financing herself, with some help from family and friends, whom she calls her "backbone." This past year, the event drew 100 supporters and raised $15,000 for mesothelioma research, surpassing the previous year's success.
Aside from the monetary rewards, though, Missy says that the real success of the ROD's Benefits has been the sense of empathy and solidarity it has fostered among those in attendance - some of whom were struggling with mesothelioma themselves. "It was overwhelming," she said. "The feeling that I'm not alone in this. I really felt part of a community."
And for those who had never crossed paths with the disease, the benefit was an eye-opening experience: "A lot of people didn't know what mesothelioma was until my event came out," Missy said. "I met so many people who said, 'I didn't know what it was, and if you hadn't done this, I still wouldn't know what it was.'"
Almost four years after her father's death, Missy's heroic journey has flourished into a powerful movement that continues to grow and inspire. The journey has personal origins, but its cause and its message are universal, teaching us that with passion, cooperation, and faith, anything can be achieved. And as far as the struggle with mesothelioma is concerned, Missy stands behind a steadfast conviction: "You can fight it," she said. "You can't give up."
Missy is holding a Christmas Wreath Raffle this month. All proceeds will go to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. For more information, visit http://rodsbenefit4meso.webs.com/apps/blog.
Stop Mesothelioma is a Facebook project created and sponsored by Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP ("LPK Law"), which pledges to donate $1 to mesothelioma research and efforts to ban asbestos for every "Like" the pages receives up to $100,000.
LPK Law is a national law firm that has represented families affected by mesothelioma for more than 25 years. For more information, please call 1-800-637-6529. Visit the Stop Mesothelioma project at http://www.facebook.com/stopmeso.
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