Don Stevenson “The Pacing Parson” Walks 3,000 Miles for Pulmonary Hypertension Association

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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In May 2015, a retired Marine, minister, teacher, truck driver, and fire fighter, Don Stevenson a.k.a. “The Pacing Parson,” challenged himself to walk 3,000 miles from Auburn to Silver Springs, Md., all for the sake of raising funds and awareness for pulmonary hypertension — a fatal cardiopulmonary disease. Covering about 25-30 miles per day, Stevenson is optimistic about his target finish date at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association headquarters in Silver Springs on September 16. As of July 10, Stevenson has passed through Grand Forks in North Dakota.

This is not the first time for Stevenson to dedicate months of walking for a cause. Over the past two decades, he has covered over 50,000 miles for various diseases, such as 7,600 for Alzheimer’s, 20,000 for multiple sclerosis, 13,000 for Huntington’s disease. This time, he dedicates this walk to one of the members of his church, Betty Mayfield, who recently died of pulmonary hypertension, and other friends diagnosed with PH, Dorothy Fitch and Cullen Steele.

Together with Team O2 Breathe, Stevenson hopes to raise $30,000 to help bring scientists that much closer to finding a cure for PH. Those interested in making a donation can do so here.

To stay updated on Stevenson’s journey, you can follow the PHA on Twitter, and on Facebook. The official hashtag is #PacingParsonPHA. You can also follow his progress on a multimedia map:

In an earlier report related to recent research into pulmonary hypertension, a previous study identified an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) in mothers taking the most prescribed class of antidepressant medications in the second half of pregnancy, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). As a result, in 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory on a potential risk of PPHN with late-pregnancy exposure to those medications.

Now, a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has provided a more definitive answer to the question of whether or not SSRIs are a risk factor for PPHN. A team of researchers led by Dr. Krista F. Huybrechts from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston looked at the association between PPHN and exposure to different antidepressant medication classes late in pregnancy.