Who We Are

Mission Statement

L.I.F.E. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to cancer survivorship by providing assistance to young adults regaining momentum following cancer treatment, scholarship programs, and helping to fund cancer research.  We will help draw awareness and contribute towards finding more effective treatments, and one day, a cure.

The history of the L.I.F.E. organization involves a young man from Two Rivers, WI named Eric McLean.  On June 23, 2003 he was first diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia at just 18 years old.  Eric’s older brother Mike signed up to compete in the Ironman Wisconsin that fall for him, and his father Brian came up with the monniker Leukemia Ironman Fundraiser for Eric (L.I.F.E.).  In a little over a month, $12,000 was raised and donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for cancer research.  After two intense rounds of chemotherapy, Eric achieved remission for the first time and received a stem cell transplant from Mike.

Then on December 24, 2007, after 4-1/2 years of being cancer free, the news came that Eric McLean’s leukemia had relapsed.  So at 23 years old and having just graduated from college, Eric again went through intense chemotherapy treatments and radiation, but this time receiving a stem cell transplant from his younger sister Lindsey.  L.I.F.E. made a comeback as Mike again ran in the Ironman Wisconsin on September 7, 2008, and we raised nearly $16,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Eric was cancer free again for nearly a year until June 5, 2009, when his AML relapsed again.  Only this time doctors gave him a terminal prognosis, saying it could not be cured.  He immediately began a journey to complete his bucket list – a list of things he wanted to accomplish before it was too late: skydiving, driving in a Dodge Viper, gambling in Las Vegas, going to the Caribbean with his family, riding in a hot air balloon, and so much more.  It could not have been done without the support and help of many friends, family, and people whom we have never even met.  Eric was advised not to treat it, for fear that it would only make him very sick, with the same fatal outcome.  He chose to fight it.  Just 2 of his 11 doctors agreed to it.  They tried a regimen of Decitabine and Mylotarg that had never really been attempted before on a patient as young as Eric.  It worked, miraculously, and Eric again achieved remission status.

In 2009, L.I.F.E. became its own 501(c)(3) non-profit entity so that it could begin helping other patients directly.  Team L.I.F.E. was founded and consists of an entire team of people and athletes dedicated to racing and fundraising for the cause each year.

In 2010 after a large fundraising effort, L.I.F.E. and Mike managed a 3rd place finish in the Janus Charity Challenge at the Ironman Wisconsin.

Then on January 12, 2011 Eric’s bone marrow biopsy returned positive.  Facing AML for the 4th time, he was given DLI (donor lymphocyte infusion) from his sister Lindsey to promote GvL effect.  The treatment worked and Eric entered remission again on May 4th, 2011.  On July 16th 2011, Eric was married to Cari Jaeger in Manitowoc, WI.

Then on July 27th, 2011, just one day after Eric and his new wife Cari returned from their honeymoon, they discovered his leukemia had returned.  For the next month he remained inpatient at Froedtert Hospital, and after receiving just 1 chemotherapy treatment, he achieved remission status for the 5th time on August 24, 2011.  Eric and Cari then moved into their new home in Port Washington, WI.  To help ensure a full recovery, Eric again received a 3rd stem cell transplant on November 16, 2011 from an anonymous donor in Europe.

Tragically, Eric officially relapsed for the 6th and 7th time on March 7, 2012 – one in his bone marrow, the other in his brain.  To combat the 7th relapse, he immediately underwent brain surgery so chemotherapy could be administered directly to his brain.  They also gave him a strong dose of radiation.  Remission was finally achieved a few months later.

On August 9th, 2012 Eric’s leukemia returned again in the brain as an 8th relapse, or his 9th bout with cancer.  This time, however, the disease had taken too much of a toll, and he was sent home on hospice care.  Eric tragically passed away just 2 weeks later at the age of 28 on his brother Mike’s birthday, August 23, 2012.  He posted a final farewell video that went viral to over 1 million viewers and can be seen here.

Eric’s powerful story of hope and the will to survive has touched us more than words can describe. He has recorded his experiences extensively in his written and video journals, and each one has a positive message that everyone can learn from.  It is our mission to continue to support Eric’s determination to live, by raising funds to promote cancer survivorship.  Through competing in Ironman triathlon competitions and the selfless giving of others, since 2003 L.I.F.E. has gone on to help hundreds of individuals by raising over $250,000 for patient financial assistance and research funding.

Thank you so much for all of your love, prayers, and support.
-The McLean Family

2003

First diagnosis

The history of L.I.F.E. – The Leukemia Ironman Fundraiser of Eric, began with a young man from Two Rivers, WI named Eric McLean.  On June 23, 2003, he was first diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia at just 18 years old.  Eric’s older brother Mike signed up to compete in the Ironman Wisconsin that fall for him, and his father Brian came up with the moniker Leukemia Ironman Fundraiser for Eric (L.I.F.E.).  In a little over a month, $12,000 was raised and donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for cancer research.  After two intense rounds of chemotherapy, Eric achieved remission for the first time and received his 1st stem cell transplant from Mike.

2007

Relapse

Then on December 24, 2007, after 4-1/2 years of being cancer free, the news came that Eric McLean’s leukemia had relapsed.  So at 23 years old and having graduated from college at UW Whitewater just days prior, Eric again went through intense chemotherapy treatments and radiation.

2008

2nd Transplant

On April 4, 2008, Eric received a second stem transplant, but this time from his younger sister Lindsey.  He again entered remission, and L.I.F.E. also made a comeback as Mike again ran in the Ironman Wisconsin on September 7, 2008, which raised nearly $16,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Eric and Lindsey
2009

The Bucket List

Eric was cancer free again for nearly a year until June 5, 2009, when his AML relapsed again.  Only this time doctors gave him a terminal prognosis, saying it could not be cured.  He immediately began a journey to complete his bucket list – a list of things he wanted to accomplish before it was too late: skydiving, driving in a Dodge Viper, gambling in Las Vegas, going to the Caribbean with his family, riding in a hot air balloon, and so much more.  It could not have been done without the support and help of many friends, family, and people whom we have never even met.

Eric was advised not to treat his cancer, for fear that it would only make him very sick, with the same fatal outcome.  Quality versus quantity, he chose to fight, and just 2 of his 11 doctors agreed to it.  They tried a regimen of Decitabine and Mylotarg that had never really been attempted before on a patient as young as Eric.  It worked, miraculously, and Eric again achieved remission status.

It was also in 2009 that L.I.F.E. became its own 501(c)(3) non-profit entity so that it could begin helping other patients directly.  Team L.I.F.E. was founded and consists of an entire team of people and athletes dedicated to racing and fundraising for the cause each year.  By July, when Eric had been told he had just one month left to live, he boldly promised his brother Mike that if he were to compete in the Ironman Wisconsin in September 2010 (over a year later), he would be there to greet him at the finish line.  HOW, could he possibly make that promise?!  Well, he certainly fulfilled it.  In 2010 after a large fundraising effort, together they managed a 3rd place finish in the Janus Charity Challenge at the Ironman Wisconsin (pictured right).

2011

Big ups and downs

Then on January 12, 2011 Eric’s bone marrow biopsy returned positive.  Facing AML for the 4th time, he was given DLI (donor lymphocyte infusion) from his sister Lindsey to promote GvL effect.  The treatment worked and Eric entered remission again on May 4th, 2011.  On July 16th 2011, Eric was married to Cari Jaeger in Manitowoc, WI.

Then on July 27th, 2011, just one day after Eric and his new wife Cari returned from their honeymoon, they discovered his leukemia had returned.  For the next month he remained inpatient at Froedtert Hospital, and after receiving just 1 chemotherapy treatment, he achieved remission status for the 5th time on August 24, 2011.  Eric and Cari then moved into their new home in Port Washington, WI.

To help ensure a full recovery, Eric again received a 3rd stem cell transplant on November 16, 2011 from an anonymous donor in Europe.

2012

Batman Forever

Tragically, Eric officially relapsed for the 6th and 7th time on March 7, 2012 – one in his bone marrow, the other in his brain.  To combat the 7th relapse, he immediately underwent brain surgery so chemotherapy could be administered directly to his brain.  They also gave him a strong dose of radiation.  Remission was finally achieved a few months later.

On August 9th, 2012 Eric’s leukemia returned again in the brain as an 8th relapse, or his 9th bout with cancer.  This time, however, the disease had taken too much of a toll, and he was sent home on hospice care.  Eric James “Batman” McLean tragically passed away just 2 weeks later at the age of 28 on his brother Mike’s 30th birthday, August 23, 2012.  He posted a final farewell video that went viral to over 1 million viewers and can be seen on the right.

Eric’s powerful story of hope and the will to survive has touched us more than words can describe. He has recorded his experiences extensively in his written and video journals, and each one has a positive message that everyone can learn from.  It is our mission to continue to support Eric’s determination to live, by raising funds to promote cancer survivorship.  Through competing in Ironman triathlon competitions and the selfless giving of others, since 2003 L.I.F.E. has gone on to help hundreds of individuals by raising over $250,000 for patient financial assistance and research funding.

Thank you so much for all of your love, prayers, and support.
-The McLean Family

Today

Today, L.I.F.E. remains a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to cancer survivorship by providing assistance to cancer patients in need, scholarship programs, and donating to cancer research laboratories. We will help draw awareness and contribute towards finding more effective treatments, and one day, a cure.

Since our inception, we have raised over $250,000, funded 2 research studies, and helped over 100 cancer patients nationwide.  Check out some of their stories by clicking here.

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