GRIC Family Raises Money for Cancer Research through International Foundation

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News


Last year Billy Allen, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and underwent treatment for the disease. Allen, who was born in Sacaton and grew up in District 5 Vah-K, is a former coach and teacher to the Community and other tribal Communities.


Allen began his teaching career with Sacaton Middle School, teaching Arizona and O’otham history at Casa Grande Union High School for over 30 years. Now retired, Allen still shares his knowledge and experience in his frequent columns featured in the Gila River Indian News.


Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a type of blood cancer that affects the plasma cells, which are responsible for antibodies that work against infectious viruses and bacteria. Myeloma cells increase bone breakdown and prevent new bone cell production.


The disease causes damage to the bones, immune system, and kidneys. Signs and symptoms of MM include bone pain, unexpected fractures, weakness and numbness, fatigue, frequent infections, and weight loss.


Allen has always been active and had attributed many of his symptoms to everyday tasks like working outside, general fatigue from work and running, and a loss of appetite from being tired. “The main one was numbness. He fell while running three times, and the numbness may have led to that,” said his wife, Toni Lorona-Allen


The family encourages others to be aware of the possible signs of MM, “Looking back, Billy showed symptoms of MM for years before his diagnosis,” said Toni, “Had we known about MM then, he might’ve gotten screened for that sooner. As it is, MM was doing its damage for years.” 


Worldwide, nearly 160,000 individuals are diagnosed with the disease annually, according to the International Myeloma Foundation. To raise awareness and funding towards research and finding a cure for MM, the foundation is hosting the 13th Annual Miles for Myeloma 5k Run/Walk. 


This year, Miles for Myeloma has set a goal to raise $60,000 towards the research. Families and friends are welcome to create virtual teams for the run/walk. Led by his children, Linda Soto and Chuck Allen, Allen’s family has created “That One Team,” to be part of the Miles for Myeloma 5K Run/Walk. The team has raised $2,940 so far.


All donations will go towards the research for Multiple Myeloma. The virtual run/walk will be held on Saturday, April 24 and participants will send in proof their miles.  You can visit the for more information on the run/walk and visit