The Massapequa Turkey Trot was founded in 2010 by James Joseph, Tom Foli and Brian Griffin. As a cancer survivor, Joseph wanted to give back to the community and help raise money for a charity that helped him. The research for his treatments were funded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, so that’s what he raises money for each year.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is the largest nonprofit funder of blood cancer research. It provides 1-on-1 support to people battling blood cancers and gets them enrolled in clinical trials. It has been around since 1949, and has invested $1.7 billion since then. It has also provided $234 million in copay financial assistance.
In 2023 alone, there were 59,610 new cases of leukemia and 23,710 deaths from it. Most were in adults. The five-year survival rate is 87-93%, depending on if the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.
There are about 80,550 people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the US this year. For Hodgkin lymphoma, there were about 8,830 new cases in 2023, and about 900 deaths. The five-year survival rate is 74%.
This year, the founders discovered the John Theissen Foundation, which raises money for children fighting all types of cancer. It funds research, pays for treatments and holds a holiday party every year where children fighting cancer and children of low-income households receive presents.
John Theissen went into treatment for a brain tumor in 1988. During his stay in the hospital, a young girl named Tasha befriended him and kept him company. He called her a generous spirit, though she had little family support. In 1992, he started a holiday toy drive for children like Tasha in local hospitals. Since then, he has collected over one million toys for children in hospitals and child-care facilities.
This year’s Turkey Trot which raised money for these causes boasted competitive winners in each category. The overall male winner was Ryan Clifford with a time of 15:49 for the 5K. The overall female winner was Kelly Grusser with a time of 19:05.