By William Fitzgerald, MD Anderson Staff Writer
It all began 10 years ago when Jerry and Lanie Rose lost their daughter, Marnie, to glioblastoma, the most lethal type of brain cancer.
Marnie was a vibrant 27-year-old in the first year of her medical residency when she learned of the heartbreaking diagnosis. During her valiant efforts to overcome the disease, she became a public figure of sorts, after agreeing to share her cancer journey and professional life on ABC's reality series "Houston Medical" in 2002.
Sadly, just five weeks before the show's final episode would air, Marnie succumbed to her disease. The Rose family was determined to honor their daughter's legacy, while finding a way to generate funds for two Houston hospitals that Marnie cared about deeply -- MD Anderson, where she was treated, and Children's Memorial Hermann, where she was training to be a pediatrician.
In 2003, the Run for the Rose was born. It quickly morphed into a community-wide event uniting patients, survivors, local businesses and families.
"We knew nothing about putting on a race or raising money," Lanie says. "But with a lot of help and strong support from our community, we were able to start something that is making a difference for brain tumor patients."
Since its humble beginning a decade ago, $2.4 million in donations have rolled in, providing researchers like MD Anderson's Amy Heimberger, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, with valuable support for novel cancer trials.
Heimberger and her team are investigating the role of immunotherapy vaccines for brain cancer. One of the first projects the Rose Foundation supported was a peptide vaccine that was tested in mice, but not in humans. This research ultimately led to two clinical trials.
"I think Marnie would have tears in her eyes to see what her family has done and how much she's inspired others," Heimberger says. "The funds we receive are absolutely crucial for fertilizing and fostering scientific innovation."
This year's anniversary run will take place at Reliant Park on Sunday, March 25, at 8:00 a.m. It could be the largest yet, with a donation goal of $460,000 and 5,000 expected participants. For parents Jerry and Lanie, and the entire Rose family, it's an opportunity to remember Marnie and advance a cause dear to their hearts.
"Brain cancer robbed our daughter of her career, her mobility and then her life, but it never diminished her sense of humor, spirit or will to survive," Lanie says. "We are determined to continue the work she began."
Registration for Run for the Rose is $30 per adult for the competitive run and $25 per adult for the noncompetitive run and walk. Visit www.runfortherose.com or call 713-723-7847 for more information.