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Women fight leukemia with poses

By Iowa City Press-Citizen

February 9, 2005 - Thanks to Iowa City resident Patty Meier and some friends, the "Calendar Girls" aren't just British anymore.

Meier and five friends have followed the 2003 movie's lead, baring some skin to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program.

In the movie "Calendar Girls," a Yorkshire woman and her buddies pose naked for a calendar to raise money for a medical-research charity after the husband of one of the women is diagnosed with leukemia.

Team in Training is the world's largest endurance sports training program. The program trains participants for a marathon, triathlon, or century ride while they raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The society is dedicated to curing leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma.

The small desk calendars featuring the women posing in saucy positions have been selling well since they came out at the beginning of January. August is the most daring, with two large melons covering essential body parts. Other props include shoes, a flag, kids blocks and a bin of pasta.

One photo seems to feature basketballs, a soccer ball, and a couple of footballs. But the eye is drawn to the smiling face of Meier, 40, behind them. No trace of clothing can be detected, but Meier admits to wearing shorts and a tube top at the time.

Many of the local women's reasoning is similar. All of them are runners who know someone affected by leukemia or lymphoma. Meier lost her father, Leo J. Meier of Dubuque, to leukemia in August 2003. Most have run marathons and half marathons to raise money for the society.

Also featured in the calendar: Anne Tomanek-Chalkley, Nicole Phillips and Ann Conkin, all of Iowa City; Amanda Freese of Cedar Rapids; and Wendy Mayer of Kalona.

Meier ran the Rock and Roll Marathon in June 2003 in San Diego after training 18 weeks through the Team in Training program.

"I hadn't run for years before that," said Meier, who ran with three sisters, a brother and his girlfriend. They raised $22,000.

Her father was unable to watch them run due to complications with his leukemia treatments at University Hospitals.

Even so, "it felt really good to focus on something positive," Meier said. "It gave him something to focus on besides being sick."

On Jan. 9, she ran a half marathon at Disney World in Florida.

Meier came up with the idea for the calendar after a co-worker did a full-size version through a different photographer. When Meier went to pick up some family photos from H. Horan Studio in Coralville, she asked photographer Howard Horan if he would volunteer to take some similar shots. Horan was happy to use his skills to help the cause.

"That's a women's product for women," Horan said.

Meier said co-workers, friends, and husbands are grabbing them up. About 100 have been sold so far, she said.

"It was a lot of fun coming up with the ideas," said Conkin, campaign coordinator for the Light the Night walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was founded in 1949. Cure rates for adults with leukemia have increased significantly from 14 percent in the 1960s to 39 percent in the 1990s. For children, cure rates have skyrocketed from 4 percent to 73 percent in the same timeframe.

"I think they're getting close," Meier said. "I think I'll see (a cure) in my lifetime and I'd like to be a part of it."

• Calendars are available, for $10.95 each, from Running Wild Stores in Coralville and Cedar Rapids, Horan Studio in Coralville, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society office at 702 S. Gilbert St.

• The calendar can be ordered online at www.yearbox.com/tnt.

• All proceeds benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society -- routed first through the women who participated in the calendar. The women involved can apply their share of the proceeds retroactively to past races.


Janitor pleads guilty to theft charge

By Associated Press

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (AP) — February 9th, 2005 - A former janitor with the Independence School District has pleaded guilty to stealing money from a fund-raiser intended to help a teenager diagnosed with leukemia.
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Robert Ferres, 43, of Independence, pleaded guilty last week to second-degree theft. He was sentenced to five years on probation and ordered to pay $500 in restitution.
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Ferres took a money bag from a vault at Independence Middle School. The money was from a fund-raiser held Jan. 10, 2004 for Kyle Lorenz, who was diagnosed with leukemia.
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The money bag was found when police searched Ferres’ home

 
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