Tackling New Zealand Alps to Promote PH Awareness, Research

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PH fundraising race

Team PHenomenal Hope will take part in a seven-day cycling competition to raise awareness of pulmonary hypertension (PH) and money to advance research into the disease. The nonprofit, presented by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Bayer Healthcare, and Actelion, is competing in the The Pioneer race through New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

“Over the past year, we’ve been pushing for new horizons and broadening our reach at a global level,” said Dr. Patricia George, Team PHenomenal Hope founder and a PH expert at UPMC, in a press release. “This disease affects people around the world. We’re here to help them share their stories and raise support for the larger cause.”

PH patients often tire easily after the smallest of efforts. Daily activities like climbing stairs, running to make the bus, or playing with children or grandchildren can, for them, be a challenge similar to climbing a mountain for others. Despite existing medications that help many patients, not all respond well to the therapy, and a cure is still needed.

Team PHenomenal Hope is composed of healthcare practitioners and athletes who compete worldwide in endurance and ultra-endurance sporting events to raise PH awareness. With expertise in cycling, running and triathlon, Team PH members see The Pioneer as an opportunity to push their message — and their bodies — to new heights.

“This is a wonderful next leg to our journey,” added Dr. George. “We’re confident our New Zealand friends share our passion for a cure.”

The race is set to start on Jan. 31, 2016. Team PH cyclists will pedal 546 miles over seven days, gradually climbing to 15,057 meters. Members must travel in pairs and stay within two minutes distance from each other at all times.

Together with Dr. George,  Team PH cyclists are Dr. Harrison “Hap” Farber, a PH expert from Boston University; Thea Kent, an avid mountain biker from Boston; and Dr. Kristen Engle, a general surgeon from Pittsburgh.

“Not only do we intend to crush the Southern Alps, but we want to crush our fundraising goal and raise one dollar for every meter climbed,” concluded Dr. George. “That is over $15,000 that will support pulmonary hypertension research and patient services. That’s what this is all about — the hope that we will rally people to help make a difference in the lives of those living with this disease.”

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