2019 Warrior Walk: Celebrating Life Beyond Cancer

Team Olney

Welcome to the Team Olney page (Final Update September 16, 2019):

 As we reflect back on the past 9 months preparing for the Warrior Walk, we realize how truly blessed we are to be surrounded by so many loving and caring family and friends. Over 300 individuals donated $26,150 (as of 9/16/2019…our son Brian’s birthday). Team Olney won the team fundraising award, I won the individual fundraising award, and was honored to win the Wilmot Warrior Award.

Many thanks once again for your generosity. The money raised will go to the leukemia research started with seed money from previous Team Olney donations. Here is the latest progress update from Michael Fahy, Executive Director of Advancement, URMC Clinical & Research Programs at the Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Ralph- Thank you and Bev for joining Dr. Calvi, Dr. Becker, Dr. Liesveld, and me today. I am sending this note to summarize/share some of the incredible impact you, Bev, your family, and everyone associated with Team Olney has had on the Blood Cancer Research Program. Please know how appreciative we are for your amazing, ongoing support!

As a result of the generosity that Team Olney and our community has demonstrated, your philanthropic support, combined with the tremendous work led by Dr. Calvi, Dr. Becker, and Dr. Liesveld in the Blood Cancer Research Program, has led to a number of considerable returns on your investment:

• Three large and prestigious grants have been secured by the research team, totaling $1.6M in ongoing funding to ensure the research on Myelodysplastic Syndrome will continue for the next several years, through 2022; this includes a Taub Foundation Grant, recognized nationally as the leading foundation in supporting MDS research
• We are excited to share that Javeesha Bajaj, PhD, has been successfully recruited to join the Blood Cancer Research team as an Assistant Professor, starting in the Fall of 2019
• Benjamin Frisch, PhD, has agreed to join the faculty of our Pathology team, and is also a key member of the research team
• There have been several group publications of the research findings from the team in preeminent, national-caliber journals
• An investigator-initiated clinical trial led by our Blood Cancer Research team will assess the effectiveness of several drugs typically used to treat osteoporosis on MDS; this Phase I clinical trial is now enrolling patients in this groundbreaking, important study

None of this would be possible without your support, and for that we are grateful beyond words.

Thank you again for ALL you continue to do,

This is truly what it is all about. Bev and I would like to leave you with one last thought before we start preparation for the 2020 Warrior walk on September 13.

When you seek God's presence and request Him to intervene in your situation, you can see miracles happen! God has power over all creation and has the ability to work a miracle for you. The Bible verse below will teach of a miracle Jesus performed as well as how we can have the faith to believe for a miracle.

Acts 3:16  By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

To quote Jim Valvano…Never, never ever give up. God Bless Team Olney and all of our family and friends…..

Welcome to the Team Olney page (Updated August 26, 2019):

  Good afternoon. This is our final update before the Walk on Sunday, September 8.

  •  THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. AS OF TODAY, TEAM OLNEY HAS RAISED $24,250!!!!! Our family and the Wilmot Cancer Center can't thank you enough for your generosity. Overwhelming.
  • The winner of the weekend at Seneca Lake is Mr. and Mrs. Trouts from Pennsylvania. Our congratulations to them. The family sent the attached note which I am including in it's entirety. Please take the time to read:
Andrew Leon Trouts was just simply being a fun and life loving two year old. But one day in the big world he was enthusiastically exploring with his older brothers and little friends, he abruptly became a pediatric cancer patient. Andrew was diagnosed with stage four of a rare and extremely aggressive type of blood cancer called Burkitt’s leukemia. Andrew spent his third birthday in the oncology unit of CHOP. He blew out his three candles while sitting in a hospital gown as he recovered from a battery of tests, scans, and bloodwork. His treatment continued through many long days and months, along with several serious complications resulting in multiple ICU weeks. He was relentless and unwavering in his quest to just be a normal kid again. His last day of treatment was beyond liberating - physically, emotionally, and mentally.

It is anyone’s nightmare to hear the dreaded cancer diagnosis. Perhaps more so if you are the parent of a young patient. Cancer continues to indiscriminately afflict our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and our own beloved families. It seems we are all somehow connected or perhaps personally involved in this crusade against cancer.

What good can come out of such a horror? It turns out…so much. In fact, more than we could ever fathom. While terrible and down right scary, we have learned that spirits can be lifted and hearts can be filled with the genuine kindness, compassion, and generosity of a community be it your neighborhood, work place, circle of friends, family, and even complete strangers. We were blessed with an overwhelming outpouring of love and care that knew no boundaries. It was like a hug that never ended keeping us strong, determined, and comforted. It was kindness that went right to your core - it helped you sleep at night, see the silver lining, renew your strength time and time again. We channeled all this love to our youngest son who needed it most. We are certain this helped him through his treatment and ultimately a cure.

It seems we have been infinitely blessed by the purest form of kindness that radiates beautifully through countless individuals and organizations. But yet, it can be hard to describe the complete and amazing impact it can have for a family dealing with cancer. It made a tremendous difference for Andrew and his family - a difference that we hope to pay forward to others through the years. With that said, outreach and support efforts are absolutely critical for families dealing with cancer. It is wonderful to hear some of the funds raised from the Warrior Walk will go towards helping families during a tremendous time of need.

We continue to be in awe of the countless efforts to strengthen such support, as well as build awareness and raise critical funds for cancer research. Ralph Olney’s story inspired us to keep fighting, keep loving, and keep living life to the fullest. He and Andrew seem to be kindred spirits - love life every single day you get. Andrew had stage four Burkitt’s leukemia with complications including life threatening septic shock during treatment. He is now in remission and living a happy life as a four year old. Ralph was given up to six months to live. Five years later, he certainly defeated the odds too. They are both walking miracles.

All cancer patients should be survival stories - every single one. We are not done! The fight continues. We certainly join forces with you to defeat this disease through hope, faith, and aggressive research to provide treatment and ultimately CURES for ALL. On behalf of Andrew, we humbly thank Ralph Olney, Wilmot Cancer Institute of Rochester, University of Rochester, Warrior Walk (as well as its supporters and walkers), and Warrior Walk Team Olney including Suzanne Dailey. We would also like to express gratitude for those involved with this fundraising effort, which has undoubtedly spread more cancer awareness across communities near and far because as we all know, cancer is no stranger. Let’s keep sharing our stories, keep fundraising, and keep caring so we can kick cancer to the curb.

We are honored to share part of Andrew’s journey with you through the kindness of Warrior Walk Team Olney and leukemia cancer survivor Ralph Olney. We realize Andrew’s “cancer story” is not the first and not the last you will hear about. But perhaps Andrew’s story can help with a little more awareness and a little more hope that may benefit others on the cancer journey they must endure.

With sincere appreciation,
Melissa, Chris, Conner, William, and Andrew Trouts

 As you can see, the Good Lord seems to have guided the random number generator to a very worthy family. It makes one feel great about the generosity and investment in research that your donations will fund. The Bible tells us:

 1 Timothy 6:17-19 17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

God Bless and thank you again for everything you have done to support this effort. Blessings to you and your family. Team Olney.








(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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