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Boy’s cancer diagnosis spurs activism
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Washington/Alaska Chapter hosted nearly 50 guests on Thursday night, June 26 at Georgetown Brewing Company in Seattle to celebrate the first ever Winter Pineapple Classic 5k kickoff event. Among those in attendance was Mercer Island resident and longtime fundraiser, Mark Peterson, who spoke to the audience candidly about his son Ryan’s battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Mark and his team of friends and family first participated in the Winter Pineapple Classic in 2009 shortly after Ryan’s diagnosis, and together they’ve helped raise more than $230,000 to help find a cure.
It all began on October 10th, 2009, when Mark received the news that every father dreads; his 21-month old son Ryan was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Shortly after the diagnosis, while Ryan was undergoing treatment, Mark was invited to join a team and participate in the Winter Pineapple Classic, a Hawaiian-themed 5k fun run to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Washington/Alaska Chapter.
“It was such an uncertain and difficult time for our family that the Winter Pineapple Classic seemed like a tremendous opportunity to raise money for a great organization and take our mind off of what Ryan was going through,” said Mark. “At the time I don’t think any of us could’ve ever imagined that we’d be standing here today having raised more than $200,000 to help find a cure. It’s unbelievable, really.”
That first year, with the help and persistence of family friend Loch Anderson, his team raised $14,000 and another $41,000 in 2010. That number continues to grow each year with Mark, Loch and their team eclipsing the $64,000 mark last year alone, bringing the grand total to $230,893.
Since the beginning, Loch has served as the engine behind the fundraising effort, channeling his inspiration from Ryan’s story to help the team get to where they are today.
Since his diagnosis, Ryan has faced a tough road to recovery. He initially underwent five rounds of chemotherapy over the course of six months, but relapsed after three months in remission. He then faced another eight rounds of radiation treatment and another two rounds of chemotherapy before receiving a bone marrow transplant on Thanksgiving Day 2010. Now almost four years later Ryan has finished his first full year in school and is excited to move on to 1st grade.
The 9th annual Winter Pineapple Classic will take place on November 8th, 2014 at Mountain Meadows farm in North Bend, and you can be sure that Mark, Loch, Ryan and their team will there.
To learn more or register for this year’s race, visit www.winterpineappleclassic.org.