Jack Roth Rock 'N' Run Honors Loss, Spotlights Lung Cancer Research

Jack Roth 5K

The following post was written by Maren Roth, founder of The Jack Roth Fund and annual Jack Roth Rock "N" Run.

THE PURPOSE: I began the annual Jack Roth Rock “N” Run, which benefits lung cancer research at Ohio State, for two reasons:

1) I loved my father and wanted to do everything in my power to keep his memory alive; 

2) To raise awareness for the disease that took him and for a special cause he fought so hard for while he was alive. 

Here’s why we need to shine a glaring spotlight on lung cancer:

In early 2004 my dad was a healthy, smart, motivated entrepreneur who always believed in doing what was right. But one day all of that changed when my mom found him unresponsive on the floor. After she and I watched him lie in a medically induced coma for a week, our worst fears were realized when we learned that he had stage 4 lung cancer and likely less than two years to live. He died only eight months later.

THE STATS: According to The American Cancer Society (ACS), lung cancer “is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.” In 2015 the ACS estimated there would be 158,040 deaths from lung cancer in that year alone.  

Before being diagnosed, my dad was very healthy. He had a yearly physical, he ate well, and he ran and worked out regularly. When he was diagnosed in March 2004, although we knew he was faced an ugly battle, we never expected he would be taken from us so soon. When he died in December of that year I was devastated, but I was also motivated to do something—anything— to help find a cure for this disease.   

THE ACTION: Soon after my dad died, when I was conversing with a dear family friend about what I could do to keep his memory alive and raise awareness for lung cancer, she suggested a “run.” It was a no-brainer for me: My dad loved to run. He also loved music and nature and Bexley, the town where he grew up, but I had no idea how to begin.  

While my father was dying, he continued doing the things he was passionate about, such as was raising money and awareness for children in Israel through Masorti.  After watching the man I loved so much deteriorate so quickly, being robbed of his most basic functions while still striving to help others, I realized we had to not only raise money and awareness for lung cancer, but to continue his dedication to the cause he fought so passionately for.

Now it was easy. I contacted a fellow Masorti fundraiser friend of my dad’s, Steve Marcus, and we planned the inaugural Jack Roth Rock “N” Run/Walk in June 2006.  (A decade later, Steve still serves as director of this event.) 

THE CAUSES: After our first year, we established The Jack Roth Fund, which supports lung cancer research and treatment at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). The fund also supports the recently re-named "Jack Roth Camp Netaim-Ramah Noam," a program in Israel that benefits children with special needs. To date, the Rock‘N’Run has raised more than $1 million for The Jack Roth Fund. 

We chose to benefit the OSUCCC – James because, as the only cancer program in the United States that features a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center aligned with a nationally ranked academic medical center and a freestanding cancer hospital on the campus of a large public university, it is renowned for outstanding cancer research. Although great strides have been made in this discipline, and new findings offer hope for earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments, considerably more funding is needed.

In 2015 Camp Netaim was renamed The Jack Roth Camp Netaim-Ramah Noam in honor of my father and continues to serve children with special needs by building on the summer camp experience and providing group activities for these children year-round. In addition, the program teaches able-bodied children the value of outreach to those with special needs.

THE MAN: My dad was a pillar of strength for those around him and an exceptional role model for doing what is right. He touched the lives of many people from different walks of life. Although he would never want the recognition, he would be proud of the work we are doing to help the millions of people affected by lung cancer today and in the future.

THE RUN: Please join us at 9 a.m. on Sunday, June 5, 2016, in Bexley, Ohio, for the 11th annual Jack Roth Rock “N“ Run/Walk, which will start and finish at Bexley High School. The run is open to people of all ages; prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in each age category. This event celebrates Jack’s interests and ideals and enables families, friends and competitive runners to honor him while contributing to some of the things he held dearest. Race day is a fun-filled morning of food, drinks, music, prize drawings and a track dash for kids. For more information, visit jackrothfund.org.

*Maren Roth moved back to Columbus from New York City to open her clothing boutique Rowe, located in the Short North. In addition to her passion for business, she is devoted to her non-profit, The Jack Roth Fund, which she started 11 years ago in her father’s loving memory.

To donate directly to The Jack Roth Memorial Fund for Lung Cancer Research at the OSUCCC – James, visit our website.