Chicago Law Bulletin Features Alton Miles for Meso Race

Firm’s annual race raises money to research, fight Mesothelioma

By Jerry Crimmins
Law Bulletin staff writer

Five hundred people are expected to run and walk in the second annual Miles for Meso race Sept. 25 in Alton, a race created by the law firm of Simmons, Browder, Gianaris, Angelides & Barnerd LLC.

Last year’s inaugural race raised $50,000 for research to seek a cure for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses, according to John D. Simmons, founder and chairman of the firm located in East Alton.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

The inaugural race inspired the creation of two more Miles for Meso races last year in St. Louis and in Boca Raton, Fla., both launched by patients with mesothelioma, according to the law firm.

This year, Rushville, Ind., and Fairfax Station, Va., are starting their own Miles for Meso races to be held the same weekend as the Alton race, said Mark Motley, vice president of communications for the law firm.

The Simmons law firm, founded in 1999 in Wood River, emphasizes representing plaintiffs who suffer from mesothelioma.

“We probably had three dozen lawyers from the firm run the race” last year in Alton, managing partner said Michael J. Angelides.

He said he expects a similar turnout this year. The firm has 53 lawyers.

The money for research is raised through registration fees for the race and also through sponsorships, Angelides said.

The law firm is “the nationwide primary sponsor,” but local businesses and groups also sign on as sponsors, Angelides said.

Runners also sometimes make donations in addition to their registration fee. Early registration was $15. Later registrations are now $20, and $25 for those who register the day of the race.

Registration on race day begins at 7:30 a.m. and runs until 8:45 a.m. at the new Simmons law firm building at 707 Berkshire Blvd., East Alton, next to Marquette High School.

The race begins at 9 a.m. and will be followed by an awards ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100 will be awarded to the top finishers in the men’s and women’s divisions.

St. Louis native and mesothelioma survivor Julie Gundlach, 39, expects to run in the Alton race. The St. Louis race was folded into the Alton race this year because the two towns are 20 minutes apart by car.

Gundlach said she has had four surgeries and more than 20 chemotherapy treatments since she was diagnosed with the disease in her abdominal cavity Aug. 23, 2006.

Gundlach believes she got the disease through exposure to asbestos from her father’s clothes when he came home from work as an electrician.

She said she hired the Simmons law firm to represent her after she met one of its attorneys at the Mesothelioma Applied Research symposium in Chicago in 2006.

“Her case is essentially resolved now,” Angelides said.

Asked how she is able to run in the race, Gundlach said, “Sheer stubbornness, I guess. … You kind of feel like you’re fighting for your life at this point.”

For more information visit the Miles for Meso Run & Walk website.

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