Husband competes to raise awareness about bone-marrow registration

Posted: June 23, 2012 at 3:11 am

FOR THE PAST decade, two things have consumed large chunks of Malvern native Tom Kramer's time.

The first is his training regimen. Kramer, 46, is a practicing triathlete who will compete Saturday morning in the eighth annual Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon in Fairmount Park.

The second is the search for a bone-marrow match for his wife Pam, also a triathlete, who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2000 and eventually willl need a bone marrow transplant.

At some point, Kramer made a creative decision to have those cumbersome obligations intersect. Desperate to spread the word about the importance of registering as a bone-marrow donor he estimates only 9 million people are registered Kramer embarked on a four-event quest over the span of 8 months to raise awareness.

"It was just me in the beginning," he said. "All I had was a banner and some testing kits."

Kramer completed a marathon, two Ironman half-triathlons and a full Ironman triathlon. Eventually his effort gained steam, finally culminating last year when the Kramers incorporated their hard work into the non-profit Racing to Register.

Using endurance sports as a platform, Racing to Register aims to enlarge the pool of potential donors for blood cancer patients in need of lifesaving bone marrow or stem cells.

"We think that the endurance part the reason we chose that platform is that you have to have a lot of endurance to go through that kind of treatment," Kramer said. "There is that marriage there if we can put ourselves through this, you can register."

Athletes that who join Team RTR complete the donor registration process and, in return, the program facilitates their endurance training through coaching, discounted gear and more.

While his wife's illness is what got him started, Kramer says the event has grown into something much bigger. With more than 2,100 registrants, RTR has produced four potential matches.

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Husband competes to raise awareness about bone-marrow registration

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