Miles for Meso is a Mesothelioma Awareness Day race and fun run/walk dedicated to building awareness and funding research.

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John Cunningham Memorial Miles for Meso 5K Run/Walk - Sept. 23, 2017

2017 Race and Registration Information

Presented by Simmons Hanly Conroy, the first annual John Cunningham Memorial Miles for Meso 5K Run/Walk will take place Sept. 23, 2017 at Peace Valley Park in New Britain Township, Pennsylvania. All proceeds will benefit Penn Medicine’s Mesothelioma Translational Center of Excellence (TCE).

Date
Sept. 23, 2017

Location     
Peace Valley Park - Sailors Point
New Galena Road
Chalfont, PA

Schedule       
9 - 9:45 a.m. - Packet pick-up (Packets are only available for pick-up prior to the race on race day)
10 a.m. - 5K and One Mile Fun Run/Walk

Registration
   
$25 through August 20
$30 Aug. 21 - Sept. 21 
To register for the event, click here.

T-shirts           
Everyone who registers for the race will receive a long-sleeve, moisture-wicking T-shirt. Sizes can only be guaranteed for those registered by Aug. 20.

 

Course Map


            

John and Joan: A Love Story On and Off the Track

John Cunningham loved sports. From basketball to baseball to football, he played them all as a young man, was in a golf league when he got older and even coached soccer and basketball as a father later in life. Whether it was participating or watching avidly as a fan, John’s interests revolved around them. His active lifestyle included running on a regular basis, which led him to one of the only things he loved more than sports: his wife, Joan. 

After he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Delaware Valley College, John was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served his country during the Vietnam War. Upon his return he worked a few jobs before landing a position with Merck and Co., where he climbed the ranks to Director of Laboratory Resources within the Research Division. Although he had grown up in Lansdale, Pennsylvania and attended all the same primary schools as Joan, the two didn’t meet until they were both running on a jogging track located on the Merck and Co. campus – where Joan just happened to work as well. After a bit of small talk, the two went their separate ways but continued to look for each other each time their sneakers hit the track again.

It wasn’t long before the two started dating and running together in parks or on the beach. The first 5K they participated in together was coincidentally called The Love Run, which accurately described how they felt about each other. Despite the intense feelings they had developed, John and Joan didn’t sprint to the proverbial finish line and get married right away, but rather took their time and developed a love that made the two inseparable and hopelessly devoted to each other. Fourteen years after they married, they traveled to Russia to adopt their son, Sasha; and along with John’s son, Todd, as well as several nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters and parents, their family was finally complete.

John and Joan enjoyed running together well into their marriage. Whether at home, on vacation, or at the beach, they always found time to run with each other. In 2012, John competed together with Joan in Lansdale’s Kugel Ball 5k. He took her hand as they crossed the finish line, not knowing it would be the last race they would run together.

In 2014, doctors thought John had pneumonia, which turned out to be a buildup of excess fluid around the lungs called a pleural effusion. It started to subside and John felt much better, so no thoracentesis was done to extract the fluid and find out what had caused it. When his symptoms returned, a CAT scan revealed tumors in his chest cavity and enlarged lymph nodes. In March 2015, John was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The diagnosis came as a complete shock to the couple, not knowing anything about asbestos or having any idea where John could have been exposed.

By the following month, John was undergoing chemotherapy and was enrolled in a clinical trial through Penn Medicine that involved immunotherapy. His tumors started to shrink, and both John and Joan had a renewed sense of hope for their future together. They spent the summer visiting their shore house and boating together like they had so many summers before – but this marked the first summer John could not run alongside his wife on the beach. By the end of the year, John took a turn for the worse and needed oxygen to help him breathe. He passed away March 17, 2016, just months shy of his and Joan’s 25th wedding anniversary.

John was known for his affinity for sports and undying love for his family, but also for his infectious smile and larger-than-life heart. He was known as an honest and good man who would go out of his way to help anyone who needed it. His personal motto was “I’m here to serve,” something he proudly did every day of his life. And according to Joan, now it is her turn to “serve” where John left off.

To keep John’s memory alive and to support Mesothelioma research at Penn Medicine, she started the John Cunningham Memorial Miles for Meso 5K Run/Walk. Their love was born on a racetrack, and now it will continue to live there, too.