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Pineapple Race In Greenwich Helps Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Gina Murray, Amy Girolametti, Erin Dyroff, Kristina Villamana, Stephanie Zowine of the Mighty Minions. Photo Credit: Contributed
The first wave of runners leaves the starting line at the Pineapple Race. Photo Credit: Contributed
Spencer Lovely, William Lovely, Caitlyn Lovely and Katie Nedder celebrate after the race. Photo Credit: Contributed
Dr. Jackqueline McLean Markes, mother of Kyle Markes, a Stamford boy who lost his battle to leukemia, speaks to the runners. Photo Credit: Contributed
Kevin Cameron addresses the runners. Photo Credit: Contributed

GREENWICH, Conn. -- After a soggy pre-race week, the sun shined on the local chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s fourth annual Hawaiian-themed Pineapple Classic 5k with obstacles at the Greenwich Polo Club.

The event attracted over 950 runners and walkers and raised more than $160,000 for blood cancer research and patient services for the Wilton-based society.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District) and Greenwich Police Chief James Heavey topped the list of celebrities for the day.

Stamford’s Dinosaur Bar-B-Que served up a post-race lunch in the luau tent as runners sampled from local vendors and sipped on Kona Beer while rocking out to the band, Doghouse.

Web MD Health Foundation was the presenting sponsor. Other companies that contributed included Whole Foods Market of Greenwich with 300 pineapples, Davenport Contracting of Stamford with obstacles, Serendipity Magazine with goody bags and photos, and the Banksville Independent Fire Department, which hosed down the runners.

Greenwich Polo Club, Smilow Cancer Hospital Greenwich Campus, CT Information Security, OOHA Wilkins, CertaPro Painters, Ultimate Grounds, BMW of Greenwich, Praxair, Benjamin Moore, and Jack and Jill of America were other sponsors

Nestle Waters, PepsiCo, Longford’s Ice Cream, Ola Granola, AT&T, Star 99.9, Spiked Seltzer, Starbuck’s of Greenwich, Trader Joe’s of Stamford, Stamford Sports & Spine, Honest Tea, Skinny Pop, Pretzel Crisps, Keurig, Energizer-Schick of Stamford, Sweaty Betty of Greenwich, Pure Barre of Greenwich, Mavis Tire, Independent Residential, and Runners Roost of Darien also contributed to the success of the race.

Kevin Cameron, member of the Pineapple Classic Planning Committee as well as leukemia survivor, spoke about the importance of the work of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in finding a cure for cancer, “not someday, but today.”

Dr. Jackqueline McLean-Markes, mother of Kyle Markes, a boy who lost his battle to leukemia, spoke about the journey and thanked supporters  “No mother ever wants to hear the words ‘Your son has cancer.’”

Kyle fought his battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia for well over a year, and was brave until his death on Dec. 24, 2013.  Kyle, who was of Jamaican decent, lived in Stamford with his family and attended New Canaan Country School.

From the start, McLean-Markes sprung into action by trying to raise awareness to increase African-American registrants to the national bone marrow registry. There are 10.5 million registered bone marrow donors and only 7 percent are African-American or black – even fewer are Jamaican.

Although Kyle’s immediate family was not a match, a match was eventually found but the aggressive nature of ALL spread before the transplant could be received.

To date, the Markes family has been told that four lives will have directly benefited from Kyle's Corner bone marrow drives.

McLean-Markes' commitment to building awareness for bone marrow donations and for better research and outcomes for blood cancer patients should be commended. She continues to hold donor drives, and now has groups reaching out to hold their own drives.

In addition, she set up a 2014 Pineapple Classic team called Kyle’s Corner to raise money in her son’s memory. The team raised over $23,000.

For more information or to get involved call 203-665-1400 or visit

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