Bob Heller Team will receive Spirit of Hope Award
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) will present Wilton resident Anne Koproski and the rest of the Bob Heller Team with the Spirit of Hope Award at the 13th annual Team for Cures: Tri-State 5K Walk/Run at New Canaan High School on Sunday, June 12.
The award is given to individuals or groups that inspire hope with their work and demonstrate extraordinary commitment to the MMRF, which works to find a cure to extend the lives of patients with multiple myeloma — a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells that can damage the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.
Koproski said she and her family started participating in the annual 5K seven years ago — five years after her older brother Bob “Bobby” Heller, a practicing attorney living in Seattle, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma at the age of 52.
Although Bobby’s diagnosis came with statistical life expectancy of five years, he told his family his only goal was to stay alive long enough for them to find a cure.
He started with thalidomide and dexamethasone and had his first bone marrow/stem cell transplant within a year. After the initial treatments, Bobby participated in established treatment protocols, but always developed some level of disease progression.
Bobby later participated in a number of studies, the last of which was an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody therapy that was effective for almost a year. However, his eligibility was withdrawn due to disease progression.
He is now starting Daratumumab — a human IgG1k monoclonal antibody that binds with high affinity to the CD38 molecule, which is highly expressed on the surface of multiple myeloma cells — and is hopeful for a successful outcome.
“Bobby has just been so incredibly positive and his outlook has been contagious. He just inspires us,” said Koproski.
“It’s encouraging — and I know my siblings feel the same way — that my brother’s resilience is incredibly inspiring. I don’t know where we’d be without hope.”
Koproski said she is “appreciative” of the Spirit of Hope Award, which is “more about Bobby” than the team.
“He fights the battle,” she said. “We just show up, but we are better and stronger together.”
Koproski’s husband, sons, and other siblings Jane Wicks and Tom Heller, of New York and New Jersey, respectively; also participate in the Tri-State 5K — making for a truly tri-state team, which usually has a total of about 15 to 20 members.
Anyone interested in joining the Bob Heller Team for the upcoming race or making a donation may do so at support.themmrf.org/goto/bobheller.
Registration for the Tri-State 5K Walk/Run at New Canaan High School, 11 Farm Road, on June 12 begins at 7:30 a.m., and the race begins at 9. New York Jets running back Khiry Robinson will make an appearance between 8 and 8:30.
To learn more about the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, visit themmrf.org.