RAAMftermath PHilm Fest and Memories from the Summer
It’s Sunday night, people are walking into the Melwood Screening room, and I feel like there are so many people to greet and hug before the film starts. The place is filled with our families, friends, sponsors and supporters, and special guest President Rino Aldrighetti from PHA. There is even a Livestream link thanks to our sponsor and event co-host UPMC. It has been 2 months already, and we are excited to walk a little down memory lane and share the race experience with everyone. Nostalgia? Yes definitely.
The theater has over 100 people seated, and our emcee Sheldon Ingram asks the team to stand, and people clap, and at that moment I’m speechless. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes you get overwhelmed with thoughts and memories and for a second everything becomes a blur. And then reflection brings clarity…
Reflecting on that special evening and looking out into the crowd, I saw many individuals who had a direct role in the inspiration of a team. I saw Dr. Ray Benza, who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro four years ago with PHA in the Path to a Cure. I had followed their climb and blog and heard them speak at Conference. And along with Bob Frantz and Jessica Lazar, he helped ignite the spark that racing in the Race Across America with PHA could be something beyond special. I saw Rino Aldrighetti, PHA president who two and a half years ago got a twinkle in his eye and agreed to this crazy idea. I stood with my teammates, 3 amazing women who devoted their training to this team and our cause. I sat next to our crew chief, who I believe devoted as much energy if not more in logistical planning as we did in our training. I saw Danny Chew, 8-time solo RAAM rider and 2-time champion, my friend and RAAM mentor who rode with me on my first century and first metric century, sharing both his knowledge and his utter enthusiasm for all things endurance cycling. I saw members of our crew, those incredible people who devoted their energies and vacation time to getting our team across the country safely. I saw our families and friends and PHriends, without whom we could not have done this. In my mind I reflect on those who weren’t there that evening but whose support truly carried us through the race, from sponsors, supporters to families and friends and – of course – the amazing PH community.
After the movie and a question and answer session, our team presented PHA with our RAAM 2014 donation to go toward patient services and research. This was the culmination of fundraising, the summation of generous sponsors and extremely charitable individuals, all who believed in helping find a cure for PH. Everyone who contributed to this effort means the world to us and to the patients with whom we ride. From our generous corporate sponsors’ support to the Pittsburgh racers who donated their race winnings and the support group member who saved up loose change to donate at the end of the summer, we all did this together. And beyond Pittsburgh, we should all feel proud. Team PH recognizes all the people who participated in the nationwide PHA Race of Our Lives campaign. We were touched and motivated by PH community members who did Unity Events in their communities, raising awareness and funds and making a difference all around the country. Through this experience we learned that Team PH was much much bigger than 4 racers and 13 crew.
This was not something that we did alone. We crossed the country with an incredible crew. We crossed the country with so many people supporting us. We did this because of you and we did this with you.
RAAM 2014 was truly special, and we thank you for joining us on this adventure.
Although we crossed the line in Annapolis and together surpassed our goals for this campaign, there is still work to do. There still is a need for a cure for pulmonary hypertension. There is a race still not yet won.
So stay tuned. The adventure continues.