Over lunch one day in 2002, a well-intentioned Houston philanthropist suggested Lanie Rose and her best friend set a fundraising goal of $10,000 for an event honoring the memory of Lanie’s daughter, Marnie Rose, M.D., whose pediatric medical residency at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital had been cut short that year by a rare form of brain cancer. The two women politely thanked the gentleman for his advice and later shared a private laugh.
“There was no way we were going to set our sights that low,” says Lanie, recalling the creation of The Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation and its highly successful Run for the Rose fun run and walk. The event is held in April at Reliant Park in Houston to support brain cancer research at MD Anderson as well as pediatric initiatives at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
The inaugural Run for the Rose, held in 2003, netted $90,000. Proceeds have been consistently higher each year: $100,000 in 2004; $110,000 in 2005; $223,000 in 2006; $320,000 in 2007; $400,000 in 2008; and $425,000 in 2009.
This year’s eighth annual Run for the Rose netted $440,000, pushing contributions to $2,108,000.
The daughter of Lanie and Jerry Rose of Houston, Marnie was 27 years old and a first-year resident at the time of her diagnosis. She continued to work throughout treatment at MD Anderson, sharing her personal and professional life with a television crew from the ABC reality series “Houston Medical.” The show’s final episode aired in July 2002; Marnie died five weeks later, on Aug. 23.
Three days after the Roses buried their daughter, they attended a Houston City Council meeting featuring a moment of silence in her honor. Afterward, then City Councilman Michael Berry accompanied the couple to their car and proposed a fun run/walk as an outlet for their grief and a tribute to Marnie, an avid runner before her diagnosis.
The Roses established The Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation, asked a friend to set up a website and enlisted friends and family to help with registrations and solicit interest in the fledgling event. The next day their first major sponsor, the Republic of Tea, sent a check for $5,000.
“Nobody said no,” says Lanie. “People were just wonderful. We’re nowhere without the community.”
A psychotherapist, Lanie no longer practices, devoting herself full-time to The Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation. Some 200 volunteers help with the many-faceted event, which now includes a motorcycle ride. The 2010 Run for the Rose attracted 4,000 participants from across the country. Yet, despite its continued growth, the event remains a grass-roots effort: Lanie’s friend from the aforementioned lunch in 2002 manages the water stations, for example. Her best friends manage the post-run party and the family 1K fun run/walk, and her cousins, next-door neighbor and two sons’ mothers-in-law are in charge of registration and packet pickup, the raffle and the kids’ area.
The success of the event, says Lanie, depends on small donations that add up to make a difference in the lives of many. Today the Dr. Marnie Rose Foundation is the only Houston foundation funding brain cancer research at MD Anderson, and it’s the single largest donor to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, says Lanie.
Two years ago Lanie, who tries to personally acknowledge every donation to the foundation, hired a part-time staffer. Administrative expenses, she says, are supported only by registration fees, “not one penny of donations and sponsorships.”
“Contributions go straight to the hospitals,” she says. “All we get is the satisfaction of knowing that somebody has been helped through the research and programs we support. We’re seeing brain cancer patients living twice as long as Marnie did after she was diagnosed. It’s nowhere near enough, but it’s the gift of time.”
The next Run for the Rose is April 10, 2011.