Just one year since a stem cell transplant helped Wilton resident JP Kealy in his battle against cancer, he and his wife, Annamarie Kealy, are now moving mountains to defeat it, with a planned fundraising climb to Mt. Everest Base Camp–and the first stop is tonight, Feb. 12 at Marly’s Bar and Bistro.
JP was diagnosed with multiple myeloma almost four years ago and underwent six months of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant this past year. He is now in complete remission.
He and Annamarie are marking that incredible news with a superhuman fundraising effort, taking part in the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation‘s (MMRF) new program called “Moving Mountains for Myeloma.” The couple will join seven myeloma patients, four doctors and caregivers to climb to Everest Base Camp on March 2. The idea of the program is to show cancer patients that they can climb mountains both literally and figuratively.
“We have four children and wanted to stay positive to show them that even in the most difficult times, having a positive attitude is so important,” says Annamarie about why they undertook the challenge of climbing 18,519 feet above sea level to the ‘front door’ of the tallest mountain in the world as well as raise their goal of at least $60,000 for the MMRF.
“Training for this event is a big challenge, but nothing compared to the challenges faced by patients with multiple myeloma,” she adds.
Facing challenge sounds like something JP does with incredible spirit even though the physical and emotional stress. After attacking the cancer with a combination of chemo and steroids in November 2016, JP received an autologous stem cell transplant at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York last April, and was discharged just 13 days later.
“The doctors and nurses were so impressed as he walked the halls 2-3 miles everyday! He was an amazing patient and his strength and determination carried him through,” Annamarie recalls, adding, “He is already back to work and living life!”
And the feeling after learning last July that JP is in complete remission? “Words cannot describe our joy!” she says.
Channeling that emotion into the Moving Mountains fundraiser has been just as inspiring for the couple and their friends and family. They decided to participate to give back to The MMRF in gratitude to the organization for being a resource source of hope. Annamarie says they’re honored to be part of a group of other participants who have faced a similar journey.
“We hope to raise awareness and funds to ultimately find a cure. We are a patient/caregiver team because JP and I have been a united front from day one and we feel it’s important to share this experience together. We are incredibly excited to take this challenge with 16 other participants whom I know will inspire us both.”
They duo has been training by hiking as much as possible–and they’ve already raised more than $50,000, 100% of which will go to the MMRF for cancer research thanks to Takeda Oncology and Cure Magazine, which is sponsoring the trip. Tonight’s event at Marly’s, is part of that fundraising–JP will be the guest bartender and will donate all of his tips to the MMRF.
“We have lived in Wilton for 20 years and we have been surrounded by the love of this amazing community. I truly believe JP has thrived because he feels this entire town supporting him and wishing him well. We are blessed with wonderful friends and family and we could not do this without their continued love and support,” Annamarie says.
Stop by tonight’s event is at Marly’s Bar and Bistro (101 Old Ridgefield Rd.), and visit JP Kealy’s fundraising page to help the Kealys reach their fundraising goal.