2019 Warrior Walk: Celebrating Life Beyond Cancer

Team Olney

Welcome the Team Olney page (Updated July 20, 2019): 

2019 Wilmot Cancer Institute Warrior Walk – Team Olney Update

On Sunday, September 8, Beverly and I will be walking with Brian, Suzanne, Kerri, Pat, Megan, Ellie, Emerson, Ryan and several thousand other participants to raise money for the Wilmot Cancer Institute. Our Team, TEAM OLNEY, has been together since July 8 of 2011 when I was first diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Thanks to all of you, I have been able to beat all odds and enjoy 8 additional great years as your husband, father, grandfather, brother, sister, brother in law, friend and patient.

God has a plan for all of us. He is in control as written:

Jeremiah 29:11 : For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

That being said, He uses all of us for His good. The Doctors, nurses and researchers are extensions of God’s good work. Those who work on Cancer Cures cannot do their work without our financial support. Team Olney has committed to raising $20,000 to support the Cancer Research which was started with our original gift to the Wilmot Cancer Institute almost 18 months ago. The results are promising, but much more needs to be done.

At the writing of this letter, with 50 days to go after all checks have been accounted for, we have had over 130 individuals who have donated to our cause, collected close to $15,000 in donations (72% of our goal) and received 3 donations of $1,000 each. This is truly remarkable and due to all of your efforts.

Thank you for your compassion, love and support during the past 8 years. Bev and I love you all very much and truly appreciate our immediate and extended family. You are truly a blessing to us and to all those you come in contact with.

There is still time to participate in the raffle for a weekend on Seneca Lake at our Cottage that sleeps up to 10 people. See the flyer above for details. The drawing is on August 14, so please give some thought to buying a ticket for $50 and also receive a tax deduction for the donation.

Our love to you all……Go Team Olney!!!!!!

Team Olney Update (May 26, 2019)

Good Day, I wanted to provide a brief update as to the status of the fundraising effort. To date, we have raised $4,300 (21%) of our $20,000 goal. Many thanks to all of you who have contributed to Team Olney. We appreciate the support. Just this week, I am 5 years beyond the second stem cell transplant. A bone marrow biopsy revealed that I continue to be leukemia free, have 100% of my donors cells present and chromosome 8 is behaving normally. The best news we could have hoped for and a true miracle. Many thanks to the Doctors, PA's and Nurses that have worked their magic to allow me to survive this long. The attached picture was the day of my second stem cell transplant on June 3, 2014. This is the day the miracle started.

Statistically, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) Patients have a 28% chance of surviving 5 years. I was given a 17% chance to survive 6 months. It will be 8 years in July since I was first diagnosed with AML. The power of prayer, spiritual healing and a team of incredible Doctors led by Dr. Jane Liesveld have found ways to keep me alive and deal with the many side effects of the disease. Funding the Research and Development efforts are critical to helping patients such as myself survive the disease.

The Bible Tells us that: 'In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

Beverly and I just received an update regarding the research work that Drs. Calvi and Becker are co leading based on our original gift. I am attaching the e mail and a link to the article for you to read. After reading the potential impact of the research, please consider making a donation to support our Team. The Research is making a difference. Here is the e mail, a copy of the article and a link to the article. God Bless all of you...Team Olney

Ralph- Happy Memorial Day weekend to you and Beverly!
I’m writing to share some good news about the Blood Cancer Research Program led by Dr. Calvi, Dr. Becker, and that certainly includes Dr. Liesveld. We learned recently that the lab will be the recipient of a $500,000 grant for a specific element of the project led by Dr. Becker.
The grant will fund continued investigation into the role of immunotherapy as a way to increase activity in the bone marrow, and protect against Myelodysplastic Syndrome, with the hope of preventing leukemia. Please know how impactful your gift has been in helping to generate the pilot data required to apply for this grant- without your support, it is quite likely we would not have obtained this significant, additional investment in the program!
Also, here is a recent article that was published by another member of the Blood Cancer Research team, Ben Frisch, PhD:
Researchers Aim to Keep Blood Healthier, Less Prone to Cancer
We would still love to have you and Bev meet with Dr. Calvi when the timing is right from your perspective, so we can all thank you in person for your generous, impactful support! Please know I keep the two of you, and your entire family, in my continued thoughts and prayers!
Thank you both again for ALL you do,
Michael P. Fahy
Executive Director of Advancement
URMC Clinical & Research Programs
300 East River Road | Box 278996 | Rochester, NY 14627
Office Phone: 585-276-5176 | Mobile Phone: 585-507-5858

Researchers Aim to Keep Blood Healthier, Less Prone to Cancer
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
As the body ages so does the blood, raising the risk of leukemia and other blood cancers. A recent Wilmot Cancer Institute discovery showed a new way in which blood degrades when inflammation collects in the bone marrow, prompting unwanted changes in blood stem cells.
Understanding this cascade of events in the marrow, where blood is made, allows scientists to investigate the best ways to keep blood “young” and prevent cancer from developing, said Benjamin Frisch, Ph.D., research assistant professor at the Wilmot.
“If we know the instigating steps in the aging of blood stem cells,” Frisch said, “we can find ways to rejuvenate blood and reduce the risk of leukemia.”
The research could have implications for all types of blood disorders and inflammation that occurs with aging, but it is specifically directed at acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), which usually occur in adults older than 65. There is no cure for either cancer, and the five-year survival rate for AML is only 28 percent.
Frisch is co-lead author of the paper, published by JCI Insight, with Corey Hoffman, Ph.D., a former graduate student in the lab of corresponding author Laura Calvi., M.D. She is a professor of Hematology/Oncology and co-leader of Wilmot’s Cancer Microenvironment research program.
The findings emerged from collaborative work among many scientists in the Cancer Microenvironment program and Wilmot’s Hallmarks of Cancer basic biology research program. The Calvi lab for years has been investigating how to reverse damage to blood production; the latest study offers an important framework to further explore therapies to aid in healthy blood production and to potentially prevent inflammation.
The team discovered that a well-known inflammatory protein called Interleukin 1B is a key component in disrupting blood production in mice. Interleukin 1B becomes abundant in the bone marrow in response to a defect in a type of immune cell called a macrophage. The defect breaches the aging blood stem cell population — adding turmoil to a system that is already less efficient due to aging. The blood system transports oxygen and supports all of the body’s tissues and organs.
The research also provides more evidence that undesirable changes to stem cells occur in the surrounding microenvironment, an important area of focus for Calvi’s lab.
Several branches of the National Institutes of Health, including the National Cancer Institute, funded the research, as well a seed grants from Wilmot and the UR’s Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI) incubator fund.

Original Post:


Welcome to the Team Olney Web page:

Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed with cancer. Our family is committed to help bring the community together to make a difference for those who are impacted by cancer. The Wilmot Cancer Institute and the network of specialists they draw upon from the UR Medical Center have been instrumental in helping Ralph  battle Acute Myeloid Leukemia and it's many significant side effects since July of 2011. Given less than a 17% chance of surviving his second stem cell transplant, he will be celebrating 5 years of being cancer free in July of 2019.

Our family decided to make a significant donation to research being done in the area of Leukemia and Lymphoma about 16 months ago. The early results of that research are promising (see below) and the initial gift has leveraged 4 to 5X the original gift in other donations.Future proceeds support the cancer research efforts led by Drs. Calvi, Becker and Liesveld and their teams. Research and development like this that was done prior to and after my diagnosis were critical in finding treatment plans that have saved my life on several occasions. The funding is necessary to help others win the battle with cancer when faced with a similar journey.

Show your support by joining me and my family at the Wilmot Warrior Walk or giving a donation today! We set a significant goal of raising $20,000. We set this goal not because it was hard to achieve, but because these funds are necessary to find targeted cures to prevent the significant side effects that usually occur with today's treatment plans. Please help us help those that will be affected by cancer in the future. God Bless all of you who chose to help....Team Olney .  


 Make a difference in someone's life....  


Gift Impact Report- January 2019



Dear Ralph & Bev-


Thank you both again for your incredible support of the Wilmot Cancer Institute Blood Cancer Research Program, including the Leukemia Research Fund.  As you know very well, these funds specifically provide resources for the research team led by Dr. Laura Calvi, Dr. Mike Becker, and Dr. Jane Liesveld. Their efforts to identify new treatment options and discover new cures for our patients with Leukemia have uncovered some great findings in the past year, and some of their research is highlighted, below.  Without your generous support, none of what is outlined below would have been possible.


Your gift has already assisted doctors and patients in the following ways:


  • discovered a novel sequence of events as blood cells age, which leads to various forms of leukemia.  They have also identified an existing drug that could help eliminate inflammation in the blood system that contributes to the disease process, giving hope that a targeted therapy can be developed to reduce the impact of the inflammatory process.Dr. Laura Calvi and Corey Hoffman, PhD,


  • Wilmot Cancer Institute Professor of Pathology , through significant collaboration with Dr. Calvi’s team, uncovered the role of a single gene, known as ‘EVI1’, that is believe to be at fault for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).  The study led to understanding about the change in metabolism for immature red blood cells, which gives hope for a development of new potential targets for treatment and cure.  Without the work in Dr. Calvi’s lab, and the expertise the group has developed about hematopoiesis (the formation of the various cellular components in the blood), this collaborative discovery would not have been possible.Archibald Perkins, MD, PhD


  • While studying a large group of individuals with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a Wilmot Cancer Institute scientific team made an important discovery — these patients had a sizable 600 percent higher risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.  As a result of this study, it was found that all clinical teams who care for CLL patients should actively monitor for melanoma as a part of routine care. This has allowed doctors to catch the skin cancer early and manage it more effectively than in previous years, largely thanks to new, targeted therapies.


  • Because of the evidence of community support, and the preliminary data generated by the research from the Calvi Lab, the Dresner Foundation approved an MDS Research Grant in the amount of $500,000.  This significant grant is a great example of the return on our community’s and Wilmot’s investment in the Blood Cancer Research Program.



It is impossible to thank the two of you enough for your generosity- On behalf of every patient that will receive enhanced care because of your thoughtful and impactful giving, please accept our sincere gratitude!


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