The 9th Annual Miles for Meso 5K will be held Sept. 30, 2017 in Alton – and organizers are hoping to top last year’s fundraising efforts in their fight to raise awareness and funds for mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

Established in 2009, the fun run and walk was formed by Simmons Hanly Conroy to raise funds and awareness for mesothelioma. Simmons, a leading nationwide law firm that represents mesothelioma patients and their families, joins forces with Metro Tri Club of Edwardsville, Ill., to host and produce the event every year. Since its inception, the race has raised more than $400,000 for mesothelioma cancer research.

“We are excited to once again present and host this important event,” said John Simmons, Chairman and founder of Simmons Hanly Conroy. “Our firm works daily to bring justice to those diagnosed with mesothelioma, but we always strive to do more.”

For the fourth straight year, proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) – the largest independent asbestos victims’ organization in the United States. It was founded in 2004 to give asbestos victims and concerned citizens a united voice, to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure, and to work toward a global asbestos ban.

Last year, the event raised $40,000 for the ADAO – the highest amount ever raised by the Alton race. Organizers are aiming high and hope to break that record this year.

Linda Reinstein and Doug Larkin co-founded ADAO in 2004 after their loved ones were diagnosed with mesothelioma. They knew thousands of others were going through what they and their families were experiencing and felt compelled to take action. Linda’s husband, Alan, was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma a year earlier. After almost three years of battling mesothelioma and undergoing numerous radical surgeries and chemotherapy, Alan passed away in May 2006. Since then, Linda has continued fighting on behalf of Mesothelioma Warriors, survivors and their families, not afraid to take the fight directly to lawmakers.

“Our fight to ban asbestos has never been tougher or more important,” Reinstein said. “Each year, 15,000 Americans die from preventable asbestos-caused diseases. We will be sharing educational material [at the race] on how to identify asbestos and manage the health risk, providing updates about our progress toward federal action to ban asbestos, and sharing details about ADAO’s 14th annual conference in Washington, D.C.”

This year’s event will begin at 9 a.m. at the Simmons Hanly Conroy, located at One Court Street in Alton – across from Marquette High School. Participants can register until Aug. 31 for $25, until Sept. 19 for $30, and from Sept. 20 through race day for $35. Registration fees will include a long-sleeve, moisture-wicking shirt.

People who are unable to make it to the event are still welcome to participate via a virtual race for $30. They will also receive a shirt if they register before Sept. 4. Virtual-race participants are asked to form a team and participate on race day by running or walking wherever they are while sporting their Miles for Meso shirt. They’re encouraged to upload a photo of their team to Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #MilesforMeso.

To register for the both the Alton race and the virtual race, visit www.milesformeso.org/register. Those registering on-site the day of the event will need to be there by 7:30 a.m.

Anyone who participates in this year’s event has the opportunity to wear a race bib dedicated to the memory of a Meso Warrior. If anyone would like to submit the name of a loved one to be used on a bib, they are asked to submit those names by Sept. 4. Shirts may be purchased separately for $25 without participation in the race, but they must be picked up at Simmons Hanly Conroy.

The top five overall men and women 5K race finishers will each win trophies and cash prizes of $500, $250, $200, $100 and $50, respectively. Additionally, the first-, second- and third-place finishers in each age group will receive custom Miles for Meso medals, and the top fundraising team and individual will be recognized as well. Age groups can be found on the registration page.

Other planned activities and attractions include a kids’ game zone and a vendor fair featuring local businesses and charities.

Corporate sponsorships of the Miles for Meso race are also available through Sept. 1. Last year, the vent was generously sponsored by the following Platinum-level sponsors: The Bridge Church, Acropolis Technology Group, and Stratos Legal. To learn more about becoming a corporate sponsor, visit: http://www.milesformesothelioma.org/sponsors/.