The adventure begins… Team PHenomenal Hope

June 21,2012

As I sit on a plane headed to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) International Conference, I cannot help but feel excitement for a conference that is a highlight on my calendar. This conference always provides the chance to see old friends, meet new ones, share scientific ideas and talk medicine, catch up on life, not only with fellow docs and researchers, but with those who matter most – patients with PH. But this year is different, and even more exciting. This year I am bringing with me a couple of teammates who I cannot wait to introduce to the PHA, as we are on the eve of launching our 2-year project called Team PHenomenal Hope.

One of the things that has most impressed me about this team is that all of us have embraced that we are riding for something far bigger than ourselves or the race. As a clinician and researcher working with pulmonary hypertension patients, and having worked with the PHA over the past few years, affinity for this outstanding organization comes naturally to me. But now my teammates are feeling it too.

First team meeting at March 8, 2012 at Patron’s

What people don’t see are things like:
– Early meetings over Mexican food or pizza with everyone brainstorming about how to launch this, outreach ideas, and how we can raise funds for grants to find a cure. Everyone continuously asks, “What can I do? How can I help?”
– Anne-Marie texting me after racing the Columbia Triathlon to tell me that during a tough moment she was thinking about our patient friend’s determination to get stronger on the bike in her own pulmonary rehabilitation.
– Teammates Ryanne and Stacie getting pumped about going to the PHA International Conference to meet patients and people with PAH. These two just completed a 750-trip on bicycle from Pittsburgh to Washington DC and back. (Interestingly, that is 1/4 the distance across the United States. Ah math.)
– Ryanne working hard and designing our social media pages (and Facebook page and Twitter page) in her “spare time.”
– Kate, Stacie, and everyone pitching in on designing, editing, printing our materials.
– Our friends in the PHA, not only backing us from day one, but welcoming us and introducing our team with incredible support.
– Our friends at UPMC supporting this launch, shining the spotlight of our institution on this grass roots effort.
– Friends and fellow cycling enthusiasts at Big Bang Bicycles, Global Ride/Cycling Fusion, and Primal Wear jumping on board from Pre-day #1.
– Amy Garbark (Garbella!) hooking us up with an awesome T-shirt design!

This is grass roots. This is team. This team is about everyone pitching in to get this effort off the ground!

You see, we have all raced on teams where it is just about the race, trying to get our team on the podium, meeting a goal, or setting a personal record (PR), whether it is supporting a teammate to get to the sprint, or working in a 6-, 9-, or 24-hour mountain bike race. And we love it – the exercise, the thrill, the training, the individual or team effort, etc.

But this team, this race, these goals, well they are bringing us together in a way that nothing has ever done. Yes, this race will be about all of us – 4 racers and the crew of 10 people – working together to cross the country. But even more so, we all know this team is much bigger than that.

This team is about us and the PHA and UPMC and sponsors and supporters, and patients, and our friends and families, all working together for a huge cause – raising awareness and finding a cure for PH. We believe all of us are Team PHenomenal Hope. And because of this, we know how special this is, and that together we have a chance to do something really amazing.

For PHA members and supporters, it is our goal not only that they cheer for us but that they know and feel they are a part of this team. We are motivated by their stories, by their race. We hope to honor them ultimately in our race.

United in our desire to race to a cure… Across the USA

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