The Life Raft Group will be marking a milestone at Life Fest 2012: Celebrating 10 Years of Dedication on November 9 to 11 at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas.

We are at a turning point in our remarkable history as a patient advocacy organization for those who have been diagnosed with Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor, our 10-year anniversary. It’s been a wonderful journey with a community of patients, medical professionals and scientists who year by year have grown in knowledge and shown amazing courage in their battle with this rare disease. From our humble beginnings as a start-up nonprofit, the LRG has become an essential companion to those with GIST, and a leader among cancer patient organizations.

So we’ll be celebrating those 10 years and those who have walked side by side with us at Life Fest.

On Friday November 9, we will take time to recognize those who have contributed to the fight against GIST, honoring at a gala dinner a select group from the patient, medical, scientific and pharmaceutical communities who have furthered the understanding and treatment of GIST and made a difference to the survival of patients.

The following awards will be given: Dr. Jonathan Trent will be named Humanitarian of the Year; Dr. Michael Heinrich will be named Clinician of the Year; Alianza GIST will receive the Global Award of Excellence; Kim Tallau will be named Allan Tobes Volunteer of the Year; Emilie Van Karnabeek Pit will be named Arnie Kwart Philanthropist of the Year; Brian Rubin will receive the Jeroen Pit Science Award; and Sanofi Pharmaceuticals will receive the Patient Outreach Award.

Those to be inducted into the GIST Hall of Fame include The Baldor Family, Dr. Jerzy Lasota & Dr. Markku Meitinnen, LRG Executive Director Norman J. Scherzer and The Max Foundation.

Saturday and Sunday, November 10 and 11, will be full of workshops and seminars on the latest GIST developments. There will be plenty of opportunity to get answers to your questions from the many GIST experts who will be attending Life Fest.

As a part of the event, the LRG is publishing a commemorative book highlighting our achievements and pulling together memories from the past decade. You can help us mark this milestone by contributing to the book. It’s a perfect place to share a story, memory or photograph from your GIST journey or to let us know how the Life Raft Group has helped you. If you would like to contribute to this book, please go to sponsorship tab on Life Fest web page.

Our journey has been marked by innovations and achievements, including a comprehensive Patient Registry and GIST Collaborative Tissue Bank that provide valuable data for research, the formation of our own team of scientists working collaboratively on a cure for GIST, and the emergence of scores of local chapters. We will highlight these accomplishments at Life Fest and glimpse into the future.

More than anything else, Life Fest offers an opportunity for the GIST community to come together to celebrate our progress and move toward finding a cure. It promises to be informative, insightful and inspirational.