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Local veteran diagnosed with rare disease moving mountains to help others

His goal is to raise $10,000 for research during a hike through Patagonia

ROANOKE, Va. – Proving the power of positivity, a local veteran diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease is moving mountains to help save others.

Carmelo Echevarria Colon III of Roanoke is a VMI instructor and a Cub Scouts leader.

While he seems to be the picture of health, he's living with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer. He was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma nearly six years ago. While living with the disease for the past several years has proved to be challenging, Carmelo attributes a great deal of the success of his medical journey not only to his doctors at the Duke University Hospital, but also to his positive mindset.

To help raise money for research, he's getting ready for a 13-day hike through Patagonia.

He says he's lucky, and he wants to help others heal.

"I see them in their pain and what they cannot do," said Colon. "I have this advantage that I can still live a normal life and I see no reason why I can't help others and can't support research."

Carmelo’s confidence in his optimistic attitude is what has served as the motivation behind his decision to participate in the hike with Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma.

A true military man, Colon said he hopes his cadets will learn from his determination and motivation to stay positive. 

"Suck it up, life isn't that bad," Colon said with a smile.

Carmelo will be a part of a 13-person team that will consist of Multiple Myeloma patients, caregivers, family members and doctors. This climb will begin Nov. 9 and finish on Nov. 18. The fundraiser is a joint initiative between the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, CURE Media Group, and Celgene. 

His goal is to raise $10,000 for research. To help him on his mission, visit his fundraising page.


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