Easton Woman Runs Challenging Relay To Battle Multiple Myeloma

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Easton's Megan Parker, left, ran the Ragner Relay over the weekend with Betsy Parker, Jane Hoffman, Amanda Glendinning  and Alicia O'Neill.
Easton's Megan Parker, left, ran the Ragner Relay over the weekend with Betsy Parker, Jane Hoffman, Amanda Glendinning and Alicia O'Neill. Photo Credit: Contributed

EASTON, Conn. – Four years ago, the thought of running 198 miles was as foreign to Easton’s Megan Mary Parker as the moon. Her mother’s battle against Multiple Myeloma sparked an interest in running, and this past weekend she traveled with 11 women to Maryland to run in the Ragner Relay.

“I started running for her,’’ said Parker, whose mother, Joan, died Nov. 15, 2010 from Multiple Myeloma. “I had never run a mile, at least not on purpose.  I found out about the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, and I told my mom it could be fun to have a 5k team that ran to support the charity. A 5k was the longest I’d ever heard of. Since then, it’s been an MMRF running adventure.”

Parker and her teammates ran for the Norwalk-based Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation this weekend. Readers can donate online to support the team, which includes New Canaan’s Alicia O’Neill, Wilton’s Jane Hoffman, Norwalk's Amanda Glendinning and Betsy Parker (no relation to Megan) of Milford.

The team ran under the name Myeloma Minions, and includes women from Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia. Two women on the team, Jeanie Dreyer and Sally Kalksma, are currently fighting Multiple Myeloma.

The Relay started in Cumberland, Md. on Friday and finished in Washington D.C. Each runner ran three legs of varying distances in the relay, which rolled through some historic Civil War-era towns and passed within the shadows of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

The Myeloma Minions formed in June. The race beban at 9 a.m. on Friday and finished in Washington on Saturday.

The runners had headlamps and reflective vests, and slept in vans or at local high schools.  The team will donate its proceeds to fight Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer that has no cure.

“It’s going to be a 36 hour adventure,’’ Parker said before she left. “I think what I’m most looking forward to is the camaraderie.It’s coming together to raise awareness for something that has touched us and raise attention in a positive, courageous way. A woman on our team, Sally Kalksma, puts it best. She says cancer may take years from her life, but it won’t take away life from her years. That’s very motivating to me.”

Parker also has the inspiration provided by her mother, a long-time educator who was the principal of Helen Keller Middle School in Easton.

“I imagine this is going to be very emotional,’’ Parker said. “My mother really faced cancer with no fear and she fought it until her last day. I can’t understand that, but I can understand trying to take on something like this that’s a little bit scary. I’m looking forward to taking it on as a team, and completing it together.”

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