Tuesday, May 5th was World Pulmonary Hypertension Day, and to mark the occasion Team PHenomenal Hope, a cycling team comprised of medical and endurance professionals, shared with the PH community how to help raise awareness about pulmonary hypertension. Team PHenomenal Hope has been a highly effective advocate for the disease by making headlines in the news through participating in cycling, running and triathlon competitions, such as the forthcoming Race Across the West.
The team competes in several events and contests to raise both awareness and donations to support research on PH, as well as increase education and knowledge among the public about the life-threatening disease. Pulmonologist Patricia George is familiar with the debilitating effects of PH, which is why she organized the team and initiative.
George, who is a pulmonary hypertension specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), remembered the moment she first thought about putting Team PHenomenal Hope together. “I was sitting in the audience at the 2010 PHA International Conference. The speakers — a team of healthcare providers — were recalling their climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro and I remember thinking how cool it was to inspire and communicate with people through one’s extreme sport,” she explained.
Since cycling was already a hobby for George and she spent much of her time biking through the Pittsburgh, PA hills, the pulmonologist decided to take the hobby to another level and use it to support the PH community. “It just made sense to combine both loves,” she said. In less than three years, several major supporters have already joined the cause, including the UPMC, Bayer Healthcare, and the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, in recognition of the charity efforts of the team.
The non-profit group of medical and endurance professionals from Pittsburgh spread awareness through endurance and ultra-endurance sporting events, particularly cycling, running and triathlon outings throughout the world. In addition, they also raise funding to support research willing to find a cure for the disease that affects millions of people worldwide.
“It is an often unrecognized and misdiagnosed disease, and with Dr. Patty George’s help on roads along with inside hospitals and research labs, we continue to work to care for PH patients and make scientific breakthroughs,” explained the chief of the Allergy and Critical Care Medicine Division at the University of Pittsburgh, R. K. Mallampalli, MD. “UPMC is pleased to promote the pedaling, push and power of Dr. George, her Team PHenomenal Hope teammates and, most important, their message about PH.”
“The PH community may be smaller in comparison to those of better-known diseases, but our supporters and the passion we share is strong. With our steady forward motion, we will keep working to discover the cure at the end of the finish line,” added George, who said that the excitement and determination of the team increases at each sporting event and fundraising effort.
The next event that Team PHenomenal Hope will participate in is the Race Across the West, a 860-mile competition across the American West, which is one of top qualifying events for the Race Across America (RAAM) in the world. Last year, the team also participated in the high-endurance cycling event RAAM, which started on June, 14 in Oceanside, California and ended in Annapolis, Maryland nine days later.