Carl’s Columbia River Triathlon Race Against PH 2021

July 19,2021

Donate to Carl’s efforts here!

16 August 1981 was the first of three happiest days of my life, the days my three children were born. This date was the birthdate of my Meaghan, our first. I could have never imagined that 40 years later, at the age of 68, I would be participating in a triathlon to raise money to combat the disease that would take her life. On the 14th of August, 2021, I will be participating in the Columbia River Triathlon to raise awareness and funds to support patients struggling to breathe with pulmonary hypertension. I dread climbing into that cold river for a ½ mile swim followed instantly by a 12 mile sprint on a bike and immediately thereafter a 3 mile run.

Meaghan was a delightfully happy, healthy little girl with a huge talent for gymnastics. At a young age she would set a perfect role model for her little siblings, Jessica, and Andrew to follow. Life for us, a young military family serving in Europe, could not have been better. Until the day she came home out of the blue, out of breath, exclaiming, “Mommy, Daddy, I can’t breathe”! Two trips to doctors on two different continents resulted in the following words at Walter Reed Medical Center: “Colonel Hicks, I regret to inform you that your daughter has a terminal disease that is called primary pulmonary hypertension. She has less than a year to live.” Meaghan was twelve years old.

That Army doctor had no idea how determined and tough she was and she went on to graduate from Gig Harbor High School and the University of Washington. It was not easy for her, but she didn’t quit. However, she weakened finally as her struggle to simply breathe, something the rest of us, take for granted, took its toll. Eventually she required a heart-lung transplant which she bravely endured to survive. She did only briefly, and we were with her at the moment she left us on the worst day of our lives on January 30th, 2009. See

“In all the darkness light is found” as songwriter and former PH patient, Chloe Tempchine sings in “Be Brave”. In this case an amazing organization has emerged that truly exists only to support patients of pulmonary hypertension, their familes and caregivers. “Team Phenomenal Hope” started in 2012 when Dr. Patty George raised a team of fearless women to compete in the grueling “Race Across America” to raise awareness and funds to combat pulmonary hypertension. In 7 days they rode non-stop on bicycles 2,670 miles from Laguna Beach to Annapolis, MD. Evolving into one of the finest most efficient organizations in the world in this struggle, their awareness, research and patient programs are amazing, and truly world class.

Two of my favorite programs are the “Patient Unmet Needs Program” and the “Let ME Be Your Lungs Program”. In this race I am seeking your support for both. Pulmonary hypertension is an expensive disease. With medicine co-pays reaching into the tens of thousands of dollars, (sometimes monthly), patients and families have little left over for food, wheelchairs, car repairs and trips to see their physicians. Team Phenomenal Hope’s Patient Unmet Needs Program is the only fund in the world that channels funds in the form of micro-grants directly to patients and their families to meet these non-medicinal needs. These are NOT required to be paid back. Please, please donate to my race to support this amazing and unique program in memory of my Meaghan.

Also, I am honored to be racing for two of the most remarkable patients I have encountered in this long struggle, Cheryl Stracke and Charlotte McCabe. Tireless in supporting other patients through the Puget Sound Area Support Group, I have asked them to “Let ME be Their Lungs” on 14 August at the Columbia River Triathlon. I will be thinking of them, and my sweet Meaghan as MY CHEST HURTS and I STRUGGLE TO BREATHE to raise awareness and funds for Team Phenomenal Hope’s wonderful programs.

Finally, thank you all for supporting me. I, like my Meaghan, have no choice but to never quit in this fight against pulmonary hypertension. She never quit, and neither shall I. Please support me today with your donation, there are many Meaghans still out there this very moment struggling to breath along with, Emilys, Tommys, Shays, Ritas, Timmys Charlottes and Cheryls, and more.

We should have been planning Meaghan’s 40th birthday party on August 16th. Happy Birthday My Sweetheart…I am doing my best.


Father of PH Victim
& PH Warrior

Donate to Carl’s efforts here!

Story Photos

Columbia River Sprint TriathlonCarl Hicks on his bicycle

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