Gelber will begin a 48-hour stretch of continuous running in Central Park Friday at 8 a.m. to raise funds for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). It is the most ambitious running event Gelber, a self-proclaimed “ultra-marathoner,” has taken on yet.
Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer that has one of the lowest five-year relative survival rates of all cancers. Over the past five years, Gelber has raised more than $175,000 for myeloma research, including more than $63,000 so far for his upcoming run. His goals for this weekend are to run 200 miles and raise $100,000.
“Running doesn’t cure cancer, but research will. And it takes money to fund research,” said Gelber. “The more I push, the more attention and funds will be directed to the MMRF. It's all about finding a cure. If pushing my limits helps in any way, I'm in.”
Though 48 hours of non-stop running seems like a steep physical — and mental — challenge, Gelber will have both moral and tangible support on hand. More than 40 runners have donated $100 or more and plan to join him for at least one 6.1-mile Central Park loop. Multiple myeloma patient Sally Kalksma will run the first lap with him. Kalksma has taken on the Empire State Building Run-Up for the past two years in support of the MMRF.
“I am so touched that he literally puts his body on the line again and again to help fund critical research that is helping myeloma patients like me," Kalksma said of Gelber.
This is not the first time Gelber will run more than 100 miles to raise money for cancer. Two years ago, he ran 155 miles through the Catskill Mountains to his parents’ home in Suffern, N.Y. That journey took him 45 hours. And just last year, he took part in the well-known Badwater Ultra-marathon, dubbed the “World’s toughest foot race,” which encompasses 135 miles beginning at Badwater Basin in Death Valley and traveling to Mount Whitney, where temperatures reach 130 degrees.
So where does all of this inspiration come from? Gelber’s friend Anita Sorrel, who lost her battle with multiple myeloma in 2012, is a good place to start.
"After seeing how rough that was for her, I felt like I needed to do something," he said.
Gelber’s 48-hour trek will come to a close at 7:59 a.m. on Sunday, when he will be joined by myeloma patient Jeannie Dreyer, who ran the 2012 Boston Marathon for the MMRF. She will run Gelber’s last 6.1-mile lap along with her husband and four children.
“I think about people like Sally and Jeannie, who are healthy today because of the work of the MMRF and its research and pharmaceutical partners,” he said. “I know that what I am doing is making a real difference in the lives of patients who today have six new drugs that did not exist 10 years ago.”
For those interested in helping Gelber raise $100,000 for the MMRF this weekend, it’s not too late. You can find more information on how to make a donation here.
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