Team PHenomenal Hope is one of the cycling teams that is set compete in a high-endurance cycling event called Race Across America (RAAM). However, their goal is not winning, but raising awareness for pulmonary hypertension (PH), a rare and debilitating lung disease that can be deadly. The race begins June, 14 in Oceanside, California and will end in Annapolis, Maryland nine days later.
The team hails from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and will compete with a lung-transplant and PH-treating physician, Dr. Patty George, who is the captain and founder of the team. The three other racers are endurance athletes associated with the cause, who have been training for over two years to pedal across country. Stacie Truszkowski works with Dr. George in the pulmonology department of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), while Ryanne Palmero is a scientist, spectroscopist, and mountain biker, and Anne-Marie Alderson is an engineering manager and triathlete. The team will also count on the support of two minivan following vehicles, a recreational vehicle, and 13 crew members, mostly from UPMC.
“RAAM provides a tremendous platform to raise awareness, and we plan to fully utilize this race and training period to educate our communities about PH and the need to find a cure. Through traditional and social media, we will reach far and wide to expand our team in this effort. It is our goal that by the time we cross the finish line in Annapolis, every person in Pittsburgh and beyond knows about PH,” according to the team’s website.
Traversing twelve states, 3,000 miles and 170,000 vertical feet of elevation, 24 hours a day through nine days, the four women will face a major challenge to in their effort to advocate for highlighting the impact of PH in patients’ and their families’ lives. Not only patients and caregivers, but also the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) have supported the team and organized events to sponsor the race course.
“Dr. Patty George and her team have gone above and beyond to train for this race and bring awareness to pulmonary hypertension,” said PHA President and CEO, Rino Aldrighetti. “This race really is an example of the journey a PH patient takes, from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis and then treatment. It is a tremendous experience of ups and downs and extremely difficult situations for the entire family. We are hoping to one day cross the finish line to a cure.”
In order to enroll in the competition, Team Phenomenal Hope and PHA organized a national day of exercise for patients, the Phenomenal Mile, which included 77 groups in 30 states and Puerto Rico, as well as a 5K charity walk-run and a number of other initiatives to unify the community.
Pulmonary hypertension is a debilitating and rare disease in which blood pressure increases in the pulmonary artery, vein, or capillaries, causing shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, leg swelling, and other symptoms. In severe cases it can lead to heart failure and, if not treated, the survival rate is about 2.8 years.
To find out more about the team and follow the race, click here.