By Michael Bonaccorso / Correspondent
WEST ORANGE, NJ — Jack Ryan Mault and his cousin Kieran Norton, both 15 years old, never had the chance to meet their grandmother or uncle. As such, while the Maults are a tight-knit family that is never short on family stories, tradition and commitment, they are committed to helping those suffering from a lethal brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme.
Last year, Jack’s father, Michael Mault, braved a 5,000-mile sailing expedition across the Atlantic Ocean and raised $20,000, starting his fundraiser, “Sailing for a Solution.” The fundraiser’s proceeds are pledged to the American Brain Tumor Association. Michael Mault’s goal is to find a cure for glioblastoma, a cancer that leaves its victims with an average life expectancy of 14 months.
Michael Mault’s mother, brother and close friend were victims of glioblastoma multiforme. Michael Mault’s mother, Loretta Mault, 74, died two years before his brother Dennis Mault, 53. Maplewood resident Angelo Vayas, a close friend of Michael Mault’s, died from the disease at age 50.
“That’s what was so hard. My mother got this disease and we saw a beautiful woman filled with life wither away,” Michael Mault, a West Orange resident, told the West Orange Chronicle. “My brother got a dizzy spell in the Virgin Islands, where he lived at the time. Now only a few years after my mother passed, he has the same disease.
“I never heard of this disease; it’s now killing my family members,” he said.
Without treatment, glioblastoma patients face a three-month survival rate, according to the National Institutes of Health. Patients have a 3-percent to 5-percent survival rate past five years. Even with maximum treatment, including brain surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, glioblastoma multiforme recurs with high frequency. Scientists remain in the dark about what factors may contribute to the disease.
“(Jack and Kieran) wanted to do their part to fundraise. They wanted a ‘Next Chapter’ to my trip,” Michael Mault said. My son and nephew love the water. They adhere to our family motto: Leave no man left behind and always challenge yourself.”
Jack and Kieran have never sailed off-coast before, and yet the two teenagers have embarked on an 11-day, 500-nautical-mile sailing race on the Bark Europa against 20 other tall ships. The race has enabled Jack and Kieran to raise more than $2,000 for “Sailing for a Solution.”
The Bark Europa set sail from Boston Harbor last week and will continue to Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island, Canada. The Bark Europa is a 105-year-old barque, or three-masted ship, that carries 14 professional crew members and 48 voyagers.
“When I dropped them off on the Bark Europa’s deck, I knew they were becoming men,” Michael Mault said. “They will have to do everything themselves to get the boat where it needs to be. The boys will sail exactly like our ancestors. They’ll work with their voyage mates to succeed. That means keeping watch at 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. They will answer to a demanding crew that is skilled and multiples of their age in experience.”
The boys’ journey marks the second step toward the family’s $36,000 fundraising goal. A security guard at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, Michael Mault set the goal at $36,000 as it is a multiple of 18, a number which, in Judaism, symbolizes life. Already, 239 private donations have raised $25,225.
“I have donated before, but never ran a fundraiser,” he said. “I thought no one would care and the support would never be as much as it has been. My initial goal or thought was if I could raise $2,000 — that would be awesome. Administrators at Golda Och inspired me to challenge myself more. They explained people in the community care about the cause and we can do more.”
But the work does not stop with these two sailing expeditions. The Maults are seeking tax advice on transitioning the fundraiser into permanent nonprofit status. The charity would continue to benefit the American Brain Tumor Association.
“My family and friends were victimized by a disease that right now is unstoppable, yet there is research progress every day,” Michael Mault, a former Maplewood police officer, said. “As a kid, I loved helping the underdog. As a police officer, I sought to stop people from taking advantage of others.”
For now, Michael Mault will wait for his son and nephew to return with what he expects to be stories they will remember for the rest of their lives.
For more information about “Sailing for a Solution,” visit https://www.youcaring.com/american-brain-tumor-association-571168.