Two New York Families Turn Loss of Loved Ones from Mesothelioma into Hope for Others
Hundreds of people are expected to gather for the 6th Annual 5K Walk/Run for Hope, which is to take place on April 10, 2011, in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, Long Island. The event is to raise money for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds research for treatment and cure for mesothelioma. Mesothelioma lawyers of Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP, are proud supporters of the event, one of several sponsored by the firm this year.
NEW YORK, New York, February 28, 2011 - On Sunday, April 10, 2011, in Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, Long Island, hundreds of people are expected to gather for the 6th Annual 5K Walk/Run for Hope, an event that raises money for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), a 501(c)(3) organization that funds research for treatment and, hopefully one day, a cure for mesothelioma. Behind the event are two courageous women, Erica Iacono and Janice Malkotsis, who are trying to turn their family tragedies into a positive future for those who suffer from mesothelioma.
In March 2000, after several years of misdiagnosis, Anthony Iacono was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. The diagnosis was devastating to his family and friends, but also puzzling. A career schoolteacher in New York City, Anthony’s exposure to asbestos was not as apparent as those in construction or plumbing, though he had often worked on home repairs and even had a side job installing burglar alarms. Because the disease was already well into the symptomatic phase, his treatment options were limited and he deteriorated quickly. Ultimately, his doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital determined that the only course of action was pain management. He died at home on April 29, 2000, just seven weeks after his diagnosis, surrounded by his wife and three young daughters. Following his death, his oldest daughter, Erica, searched for some solace and found MARF, and began to work with the organization in a volunteer capacity.
It was not until a few years later, when Janice and Erica were connected through MARF, that the idea of the 5K Walk/Run for Hope actually began to take shape.
In 2003, Janice’s father, Joseph Lombardo, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. In the glass, mirror, and construction business for all of his adult life, he had unwittingly inhaled the poisonous fibers of asbestos-laden products for just as long. Typical of his strong, unwavering character, he chose to forgo the traditional treatment (radiation and chemotherapy) and instead went the naturopathic way - overhauling his diet and becoming vegan, while increasing his intake of vitamins. Unfortunately, the strength and persistence of the disease was too overwhelming and eventually it progressed to a point of no return. He passed away on March 19, 2005, at the age of 69.
The first 5K Walk/Run for Hope was held on April 23, 2006, in Eisenhower Park and had its own set of challenges: a severe rainstorm and veritable monsoon. Though Erica and Janice were worried that no one would show up, in a true demonstration of people’s determination to help a good cause, hundreds of people turned out and huddled under umbrellas and ponchos, raising more than $20,000 for the mesothelioma foundation.
Since that first year, the 5K Walk/Run for Hope has been an annual event, and increases in attendance each year, drawing participants from the New York area and beyond. With each year that passes, Erica and Janice become even more dedicated to the cause of mesothelioma research. With the help of Facebook and online donation tools, they are confident that this year’s event will be the biggest yet in terms of participation and money raised for the cause that is so close to both of their hearts.
The national mesothelioma law firm of Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP, is a proud supporter of the 5K Walk/Run for Hope. The firm’s Partner and Trial Attorney Jerome H. Block, who learned about the run through MARF and participated in the race last year, greatly admires the efforts of Erica and Janice: “For these two women to have channeled their grief from losing their fathers into an annual fundraiser that will help other families affected by mesothelioma shows extraordinary strength and commitment to finding a cure for this disease in a way that honors the lives of their fathers.”
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