By Chuck Finder
More than 400 people came out Sunday to run or walk for 3.1 miles
along the North Shore’s Riverfront Trail in support of pulmonary hypertension
(PH) research and the UPMC cycling foursome who will race 3,000 miles
cross-country to raise awareness and donations for the oft misdiagnosed and
“This is an awesome day – it’s the largest event ever held
in Pittsburgh for PH,” Patty George, M.D., UPMC pulmonologist
and captain of Team
PHenomenal Hope, told the crowd after the race.
There were sizeable groups wearing red T-shirts (“Slippery
Rock PHights for a Cure”) and purple T-shirts (“Anna’s Army”), the latter for
an 11-year-old Monroeville girl who saw a television story about Team PH Hope
and became both a friend and a donor.
“It all came together the last three
weeks,” Jay Lindner said of the Army of nearly 40 friends and family who
gathered on the North Shore Sunday for Anna.
And there were another 25 folks or so who dressed in
zebra-striped socks and leggings. That’s a variation of the national PH
Association’s campaign about identifying the disease faced by potentially
100,000 Americans. Just as a zebra looks like a painted horse, often PH
(high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs) is mistaken for asthma or
another condition less serious than PH. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently
announced research findings where deaths from PH are
on the rise.
“Anything we can do,” said Nicole Stafford of Warren, Ohio,
a mother of two and the ringleader of the zebra-striped crew that she teasingly
called her “cult.” Stafford thought she was symptom-free and in the clear after
surgery for a congenital heart defect while in third grade, then went on to
become an occupational therapist and the mother of a son, now 7. When she had
her daughter a little over two years ago, her condition was exacerbated and she learned
she had PH.
“Apparently with PH, you shouldn’t have kids. They didn’t tell me
that,” Stafford added. “Suddenly, I was back in the hospital. Class 4,” meaning
PH symptoms occur even at rest.
Patients such as the elementary-schooler Lindner and the
mother Stafford are gratified by the national efforts of Team PHenomenal Hope,
in support of whom the national Pulmonary Hypertension Association staged a PHenomenal
Mile in 30-plus states as part of their Race of Our Lives campaign for the
cycling team’s mid-June Race Across
“They’re PHenomenal,” Stafford said. “They’re amazing. I’m
As for the more than $10,000 raised from Sunday’s race and
walk for PHA, not to mention the patients taking part in Pittsburgh’s version
of a PHenomenal Mile-plus, organizer Julia Feitner, of Baden, called it a
resounding success for an inaugural effort.
“As a patient, it is easy to feel isolated. So it means so
much to have all of these people here,” said Feitner, the mother of two young
sons. “I’m absolutely ecstatic for a first time race and walk. To
have Pittsburgh showing this kind of support for us is just fantastic.”
Labels: Patricia George, pulmonary hypertension, Team PH Hope