By: Christina McSherry
Sunday, October 23rd at The Paramount Ranch
The Pacific Mesothelioma Center at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute celebrated the 5th anniversary of its annual 5K Walk for Mesothelioma on October 23rd at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills. The 5k walk for mesothelioma, the only annual nonprofit walk for mesothelioma, was created by Executive Director Clare Cameron in 2012. Her vision for the walk was clear … unite the mesothelioma community and support them by bringing greater awareness to this little known cancer, and in addition, raise funds for research that could impact current and future generations of mesothelioma patients. Over the years the walk has fostered a community. The PMC walk unites this community with the knowledge that, we, the sufferers of mesothelioma friends and families, walk with them through this battle both figuratively and literally.
The Paramount Ranch was dark and still the early morning of October 23rd as volunteers arrived to help set up for the 5K Walk for Mesothelioma, the Old Western Town illuminated by the retreating moon. Navy volunteers, of Feet Squadron 55, hailing all the way from Point Mugu, set the productive tone for the morning, energetically unloading trucks, as well as setting up tables and tents. At around 7 am preparations started at the depot area of the ranch. Volunteers left to mark the trail with signs, set up banners, and help vendors such as David’s Tea, Northrup Grumman, and Mike’s Mustache set up.
Registrants Start to Arrive
Once registrants started to arrive the atmosphere mood shifted suddenly from that of an event setup to one of a mini reunion of sorts. Families sought out other family members, friends looked for each other, and teams congregated outside the Pavilion at the ranch. Many are returning walkers, inspired to walk to honor a family member or friend afflicted with mesothelioma or one who has sadly since passed from the disease. They return because they want to help raise funds for the innovative research and services at The Pacific Mesothelioma Center led by Dr. Robert Cameron, in the hope that a cure for mesothelioma will one day be discovered. Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a rare cancer that receives a disproportionate level of funding and research to that of more common cancers hence why the need for research is so great.
The 5K Walk Begins
After teams checked in, received their t-shirts, and posed for their team photos they were entertained by the lively tunes of The Six Billion Dollar Band. Walkers set off on their 5k or 1k walk a little after 10 a.m. with the song “I Would Walk 500 Miles” by the Proclaimers performed in the background. . At this point the cool morning clouds produced a brief rain drizzle, stopping as abruptly as it started minutes before. Teams encouraged each other and remained resilient invigorated by their reason for walking.
For those who could not walk but were there to support the event a Bingo game was started with fabulous prizes. While the teams were walking they passed pictures commemorating those who bravely battled mesothelioma and have since passed. They also passed signs listing information about mesothelioma and asbestos that they might not have already known. Walkers began returning around 11 a.m. and were presented with medals by volunteers to honor their accomplishment. Upon returning people began their Mesothelioma Quiz which asked them questions revolving around the information signs they passed on their walk. The first ten people who answered all questions correctly won AMC movie passes.
Lunch, Vendors, and The International Tissue Bank for Research Blood Bank
After all of the teams returned, a delectable lunch was served by local Agoura Hills favorite Italia’s Deli. Walkers enjoyed a lovely spread including chicken parmigiana, vegetable lasagna, pear salad, and delicious bread rolls. Around the Pavilion vendors such as Monster Energy Drink and David’s Tea were offering energy drinks, and tea while engaging those around them. The PMC International Tissue Bank for Research, overseen by PMC Nurse Practitioner Lien Hua-Feng, collected blood donations from well-intention walkers. Delicious macaroons donated by Duverger served as the perfect dessert treat.
Opportunity Drawing, Powerball, and Live Auction
The morning quickly rolled into the afternoon and soon the event festivities began. Honorary Mayor of Woodland Hills, the always humorous Dennis Zine, introduced speakers such as Executive Director Clare Cameron, Scientific Advisor Dr. Robert B. Cameron, as well as PMC Scientific Researcher, Raymond Wong Ph.D. The opportunity drawing, Powerball, and the live auction began soon after the speeches were over. A priceless LA Dodgers package including 4 VIP seats and “kids take the field” experience went to the highest bidder. The Powerball included prizes such as a two night stay at the Hilton San Diego Resort, a one night stay at the Hyatt Regency, a diamond pendent and diamond earrings donated by Captain’s Treasure Chest, a weekend stay at The Chardonnay Lodge in Napa Valley, and a treasure trove of Pelican gear products. The opportunity drawing roused the crowd as many checked to see if they had won prizes varying from restaurant gift certificates, getaways, gift baskets, and jewelry. When the final prize was drawn some despondent revelers turned to their neighbors and laughed about their misfortune and without missing a beat declared that next year would be their winning year!
The 5th Annual Walk for Meso would not have been such a success without the participation and support of our walkers, our sponsors, including our presenting sponsor Worthington and Caron, and any and all who volunteered their time, services, and help for us to put on the best walk/hike possible. We look forward to seeing you at next year’s walk!