Upper Arlington resident and former teacher Nancy Kaufmann wasn't looking for recognition when she founded Multiple Myeloma Opportunities for Research and Education (MMORE). Her goal was to help raise funds to support cancer research.

Upper Arlington resident and former teacher Nancy Kaufmann wasn't looking for recognition when she founded Multiple Myeloma Opportunities for Research and Education (MMORE). Her goal was to help raise funds to support cancer research.

The community has recognized her work nonetheless, and Kaufman is now a nominee for the 2012 Jefferson Awards.

Created in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Senator Robert Taft, Jr., the national awards are presented by WBNS-10TV and Nationwide to recognize individuals who do extraordinary things in their communities without expecting a reward.

"It's a huge honor to be nominated, and I'm very grateful," Kaufmann said. "I do what I do because I have a passion and commitment to help support multiple myeloma research, but to be recognized for it is a very special honor."

A longtime teacher at Wickliffe Progressive Community School and Jones Middle School, Kaufmann ended her teaching career in 2005 when her daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (MM). Also known as Kahler's Disease, MM is a cancer of plasma cells, where abnormal cells collect in bone marrow.

"Sarah was 22 at the time, and she was diagnosed the week before she graduated college," Kaufmann said. "Our family had never heard of this type of cancer before, so we were completely thrown. When Sarah was diagnosed we were told that there was no cure for this cancer, that it had a very high recurrence rate after treatment, and that the survival rate was two to four years. We found ourselves swept up in this new world."

Kaufmann's daughter underwent chemotherapy and other treatments following her diagnosis.

"We're so very grateful," Kaufmann said. "She's in remission six years later and thriving."

After the diagnosis, Kaufmann and her family founded the nonprofit organization, MMORE, which supports MM research through fundraising, aiming at improving the quality of life for myeloma patients, and to ultimately find a cure, Kaufmann said.

"We have several communitywide fundraisers, two particularly that are the Celebrate MMORE gala every February, and the Move More race in June, both of which bring people together to participate and raise funds," Kaufmann said.

"In addition to being fundraisers, those events have become opportunities for myeloma survivors to connect with each other," she said. "This often is an isolated diagnosis; most people haven't heard of it, and those diagnosed with it can feel pretty alone. Our events also provide a really special opportunity for patients, survivors and caregivers to connect with each other."

MMORE's board of directors represents five states, Kaufmann said, and the other board members conduct fundraisers in their own communities. Numerous supporters of the nonprofit also host their own grassroots fundraisers, she said, with 100 percent of the funds raised going to research.

"This is a true collaboration of grass roots people coming together," she said.

More information on Kaufmann and MMORE can be found online at www.mmore.org. The winners of this year's Jefferson Awards will be announced on 10TV at 7 p.m. April 28.

ThisWeek Community Newspapers is a sponsor of the Jefferson Awards.