Tom Holland and Doug Schiff, both Darien residents, charged up the stairwell of the world's most famous office building Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Empire State Building Run-Up Powered by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Staged by the New York Road Runners, the event is one of the most challenging and prestigious stair climbs in the world and the MMRF was honored to be the title and benefiting charity.

Now in its 35th year, the Empire State Building Run-Up has been highly exclusive, with less than 5,000 people participating since the race began. This year, the event moved from morning to night and increased the field size. There were about 650 runners in total, including a team of 100 from the MMRF -- all of whom had committed to raise a minimum of $2,500 to support the cancer research organization in its mission to develop next-generation treatments and extend patients' lives.

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that originates in plasma cells. It is the most common type of white blood cell cancer and the second most common blood cancer. Four treatments that the MMRF has helped accelerate are now standard therapies for patients with multiple myeloma and are being used or explored as treatments for more than 30 other cancers. Yet the five year survival rate for myeloma remains one of the lowest of all cancers and with all patients eventually relapsing, myeloma remains an incurable cancer.

Darien residents were excited to put their stamina to the test while supporting the MMRF.

"This is my second year running the ESB Run-Up for the MMRF PowerTeam," Holland said. " I could not be more pleased with how the event has grown and become such a great way to raise money and awareness for the organization."

The 86-flight race culminates in a final lap around the 86th floor observatory, approximately 1/5 of a mile above Fifth Avenue.

MMRF PowerTeam members participate in athletic events in the United States and abroad including marathons, half marathons, triathlon and cycling events as part of the MMRF Endurance Events Program. Since its inception in 2008, the MMRF Endurance Program has raised more than $5 million for research.

"Athletes reach out to their friends, coworkers and family members, who contribute whatever amount they can. It all adds up, and the power of one becomes the power of many," said program manager Alicia O'Neill, a New Canaan resident.

Guaranteed entries for the NYC Half Marathon on March 18, the NYC Triathlon on July 8, Ironman NY on Aug. 11 and the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4 are available through the MMRF. Visit www.mmrfRunBikeTri.org to learn more.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation was established in 1998 as a nonprofit organization by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti, soon after Giusti's diagnosis with multiple myeloma. The mission of the MMRF is to relentlessly pursue innovative means that accelerate the development of next-generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure. As the world's No. 1 private funder of multiple myeloma research, the MMRF has raised more than $190 million since its inception and directs 90 percent of total budget to research and related programming. As a result, the MMRF has been awarded Charity Navigator's 4-star rating for nine consecutive years, the highest designation for outstanding fiscal responsibility and exceptional efficiency. For more information about the MMRF, visit www.themmrf.org.

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