Sunday, March 9, 2014
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Contributed photoSTAIR MASTER: Nate Poulin runs in last year’s Empire State Building Run-Up, the annual climb up the Empire State Building’s 1,576 steps. Poulin will be running it again Wednesday to raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, after his father, Michael Poulin of Winslow, was diagnosed with the incurable cancer.
Contributed photoRUNNING TOGETHER: Michael Poulin, center, holds his granddaughter, Molly Magoun, next to his son and Molly’s uncle, Nate Poulin, at 2012’s Race for Myeloma 5K in Bangor. It was the first charity race that the Poulins ran. Nate, along with his sister and brother-in-law Katie and Andrew Magoun, would go on to raise more than $10,000 in 2013 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
Since its start in 1998, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has raised more than $240 million to fund research for a cure for the deadly blood disease. The foundation is the largest private funder for myeloma research, directing more than 90 percent of its money toward research.
“We’re driving a lot of the search in expedited treatments for myeloma,” said Alicia O’Neill, the director of endurance events at MMRF.
To help support the cause, Andrew and Katie Magoun started a Maine group, ME Against Myeloma. All the money raised by the two through charity road races is funneled to MMRF.
“Sometimes, when people connect with us they do their own local outreach because they know if they can raise money, then we’re going to put it to work to keep their loved ones alive,” O’Neill said.
The style of the race, vertical, enclosed, makes it a different type of grueling activity from a traditional road race.
“The unique thing about it, you’re starved of oxygen, so it’s not so much physical as it is mental,” Poulin said. “In a road race, you’re looking around and interacting with the people around you. This is more of just staring at stairs.”
His newly found interest in running was appreciated, but not a surprise to his father.
“That’s the type of person Nate is, he’s caring,” Michael Poulin said. “I wasn’t surprised by his reaction to it after it sunk it. He would try to do something. In actuality, my daughter and son-in-law got equally involved, starting the ME Against Myeloma campaign.”
Nate Poulin’s nonprofit work may have ignited some ambers of sibling rivalry.
Katie Magoun, who had also been trying to find a way to help the cause, thought the stair climb was a good fit for her, too.
“My brother was planning on doing some running, which instantly stuck out in my mind because he’s not a runner,” she said. “I figured if my brother can do it, so could I. Since we had gotten settled in, I looked at my husband and said there was potential here to do something.”
Andrew Magoun took the reigns in Maine, starting the ME Against Myeloma campaign out of Portland, signing the family up for area road races and triathlons to help raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
“We seized on the momentum we had on wanting to help and the extra free time we had in Maine and went ahead with the idea of Me Against Myeloma,” Katie Magoun said. “My brother loved it and we all joined forces.”
In 2013, the Poulin and Magoun families competed in nearly a dozen charitable road races in Maine and a triathlon in Michigan, raising more than $10,000 that was donated to MMRF.
“My kids were athletic, but I never thought they’d be runners or climbing the steps of the Empire State Building,” Michael Poulin said.everyday lives
Nate Poulin has been preparing for this year’s Empire State Building Run-Up, which is on Feb. 5, hoping to best last year’s time of 28 minutes and 10 seconds. Although he, his sister and brother-in-law have raised more than $10,000 this year for the foundation, his donation pool is drying up.
“The challenge of fundraising is at some point you’ve reached your limit of hitting up friends and families,” Nate Poulin said. “You kind of tap out your base.”
To combat that Nate Poulin and Andrew and Katie Magoun are focusing on more events and races they can do in 2014 to help raise money and awareness for ME Against Myeloma and MMRF. Compared to more notable cancers, myeloma is relatively unknown, accounting for 1 percent of all cancers and affecting about 20,000 people in the US each year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Compare that to over 200,000 people in the US affected by breast cancer in 2010, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We’re just starting to figure out what we can do to increase our donor pool and increase awareness,” Andrew Poulin said. “It’s not like other cancers, where you have hundreds of thousands of people affected by it.”
The Poulins are continuing to cherish the moments with their family, especially their grandchildren, playing in the yard, having dance parties and jumping on pillow piles. Recently, Michael and Kathy Poulin took their grandchildren to their first movie, taking in the Disney hit “Frozen.”
Because of how often they’ve been interacting, the scary topic of myeloma has taken a backseat to their everyday lives, according to Andrew Magoun.
“In many ways, we see them so much, the elephant in the room isn’t as present,” he said, adding that his kids, despite their young ages, are getting attached to his father-in-law.
“There’s no better compliment from my kids than ‘I love you as much as grandpa.’”Jesse Scardina — firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @jessescardina
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Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans Kathy and Michael Poulin at their Winslow home recently. Michael was diagnosed with Myeloma, a rare blood disorder two years ago. Their son Nate will be climbing the stairs in the Empire State Building to raise money and awareness for the disease.