For years, Weitz & Luxenberg has fought for the rights of those affected by mesothelioma, which kills an estimated 3,000 Americans annually.

This year the firm has created the iWalk4MESO Virtual Race to both raise public awareness of the rare disease and generate funds for research. Its premise is so simple, practically anybody can become involved, whether they personally know a mesothelioma victim or not. There are no registration fees or signup sheets, and no ear-popping starter’s pistol sounding at the crack of dawn, either.

iWalk4MESO is being held in conjunction with Mesothelioma Awareness Day on Sept. 26, though it’s a competition only in spirit and designed so that those of any age or physical condition can participate, wherever they happen to live, whenever it’s most convenient.

The format is unique, it’s a “Virtual Race” with no start or finish lines, much less a prescribed route or clock.   

“The idea is to be inclusive,” said Lauren Novogrodsky, who is managing the project for Weitz & Luxenberg. “We are leveling the playing field. Someone who might have trouble breathing and only be comfortable taking one or two steps can participate just as fully as a seasoned runner. Everyone deserves to have their voices heard.”

For those who would like to help the cause, the iWalk4MESO project asks participants to walk or run any comfortable distance, post a hash-tagged (#) picture of their efforts on their Facebook Pages and this Facebook group and other social media platforms, then send along a donation.

Sprint or saunter, any distance matters, because like with medical research, even the smallest steps ultimately add up. For every post, Weitz & Luxenberg will donate to the cause. Donations can also be made directly to the Vaccine and Immunology Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Already, Facebook posts have begun to appear from locales around the world, some of them shared by those who have known a mesothelioma victim.

Mesothelioma ranks as one of the rarest forms of cancer, but none is deadlier. Once diagnosed, those afflicted usually survive for less than two years. The disease, caused by exposure to the carcinogen asbestos – often while employed in blue-collar vocations involving construction, building renovation, insulation or auto repair – is staggeringly expensive to treat.

Many facts involving mesothelioma remain a mystery to those studying the disease. Money for basic research is clearly needed.

The Virtual Race is sponsored by Weitz & Luxenberg and Massachusetts General Hospital, whose research at the molecular level stands at the forefront of the fight against cancer. See more about the race on the website

Weitz & Luxenberg has represented thousands of asbestos victims in its 30 year history and has recovered billions of dollars for them. “The money we raise through iWalk4MESO will help accelerate the critically needed research, hopefully prolonging the lives of mesothelioma victims and enhancing the quality of their remaining years,” firm founders Perry Weitz and Arthur Luxenberg said.

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