Ted Mullin’s Journey Continues: The Few Become Many

hourofpower1_2Fifteen teams, $11,000. That’s where it began in 2006.

Now, 3 years later, the Hour of Power “Leave It in the Pool” relay boasts more than 120 teams, pools on 4 continents, more than 6,000 participants and a fundraising total for sarcoma research that tops $112,000.

What started as simple event to honor Ted Mullin’s memory has blossomed into a full-scale fundraising effort to benefit the Ted Mullin Fund for Sarcoma Research at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital.

This year’s 4th annual relay takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at any pool that will sponsor your team.

Ted_Mullin3When the Hour of Power was created in 2006, Mary Henry, Ted’s mother, had very little to do with the planning. It was Carleton College’s assistant swim coach, Craig Johnson, who planned and executed the event. In fact, Henry and her husband Rick Mullin first learned of the swim-a-thon from a friend of a relative through an e-mail.

She and her husband quickly got up to speed, learning that it was more than just Carleton involved and that they were making it a fundraiser.

“We were just amazed,” Henry says.

In the ensuing years both Henry and Mullin have been involved, doing their fair share of marketing the event to colleges, high schools and club teams around the United States.

But even though the Ted Mullin Fund overall has raised more than $300,000 in the past 3 years, it’s not all about the fundraising.

“The goal is to raise money, but we also want to raise awareness because it’s a very rare cancer,” Henry says.

There are more than 1.5 million new cancer cases in the United States each year. Less than 12,000 of those new diagnoses are sarcoma.

Sarcoma is considered a developmental cancer, and the tumors often develop deeply buried in the body. So, patients with sarcoma don’t often feel the tumor until it’s so big that it’s a problem.

This was the case with Ted.

He first felt his tumor in January of 2004, but he didn’t think too much about it. It manifested itself as a swollen calf. But when it started to hurt in May, he went to the doctor. Thus began the rounds of tests, MRIs, diagnosis and treatments.

Unfortunately, because so few people get sarcoma, it’s difficult to do clinical trials. Thus, there is still relatively little known about how to treat it effectively. Though Ted’s tumor removal was successful, his overall treatment was not. He went into remission, but the cancer reappeared in his lungs in April of 2005, and the following year was a series of surgeries and chemotherapy regimens.

He died in September of 2006.

hourofpower3_2Even 3 years after Ted’s death, the outpouring of support for the fund keeps growing exponentially, but those who know Ted aren’t surprised.

“He was always able to rally the troops,” says Anne Mueller, Wilmette resident and a mother to one of the boys on the New Trier High School swim team while Ted was captain. “Ted was the most natural leader amongst his peers who really just meant for everyone to do their best. … He cared about every athlete on the team … ”

Mueller along with Winnetka-resident Nan Martin started a team called the Penguins this year that will participate in the Hour of Power using the Michigan Shores Club pool.

While the Penguins are a homespun team of about 30 swimmers, who, as Mueller puts it, will be swimming in the slow lane, there will be almost 80 colleges, 9 high schools, 9 club teams and 2 student abroad programs as well as various other informal teams participating this year.

It’s not too late to show your support for the Hour of Power. Start your own team or simply make a donation. If you would like to contribute to The Ted Mullin Fund for Sarcoma Research, please make checks payable to: “The University of Chicago” and write “Ted Mullin Fund for Sarcoma Research” in the memo line.

Please mail checks to:

The University of Chicago
Medical Center Development
Attn: Callie Whelan
1170 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Funds raised for the Ted Mullin Fund for Sarcoma Research act as seed funding for the University of Chicago pediatric sarcoma research program, allowing collaborative efforts between clinicians and physician-scientists in the identification of the causes of sarcoma, at the most basic molecular and cellular levels.

Please note: Ted Mullin’s story was originally reported on by Susan B. Noyes.

As the story begins:

The power of the Internet inspires a circle of love—love that supported one Winnetka family through a parent¹s worst tragedy.

Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 3:33 PM
Subject: Ted Mullin

Ted’s tumor is cancerous.
It is a sinovial cell sarcoma (soft tissue cancer). Of the two types of sarcoma that it might be, the oncologist tells us that synovial cell is “better” to have – at least the waiting is over. In the words of a friend, “We have to play the hand we are dealt.”
Love, Mary

To follow the journey from the beginning, please be sure to read: Ted’s Journey.

Recommended websites:

Carleton College Hour of Power Relay Site: Though Carleton College is the official sponsor of the Hour of Power relay, any college or team can sign up to participate. Here’s how

University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, Pediatric Sarcomas Page: Information about the University of Chicago’s treatment for pediatric sarcomas. A great jumping off place for resources.

Sarcoma Alliance: A site for guidance, support and education regarding sarcomas.

Recommended reading:

“The Monster I Battle: Living With Sarcomas” by Angela Stokes—Collected stories of the author and other people who have battled with and are still battling sarcoma.

“What to Eat if You Have Cancer (revised): Healing Foods that Boost Your Immune System” by Maureen Keane—A guide to improved dietary habits that can support cancer treatment programs.

“Pediatric Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcomas” by Alberto S. Pappo—This book integrates and summarizes the most important clinical, molecular and therapeutic aspects of pediatric bone and soft tissue sarcomas.

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