Monday, November 2, 2009

What a difference 9 years makes…

When I flew into San Francisco on Saturday, the city was covered in a grey fog.

This morning the sun was shining in Palo Alto. The 9th Annual Stanford Race Against PH would have a great day! 

I got to the campus an hour before the start. Besides being a beautiful place, it’s the home of the Vera Moulton Wall PH Center. Under the former leadership of Dr. Ramona Doyle and now, her successor, Dr. Roham Zamanian, this event has grown to be the largest PH event in a fast-growing constellation of PH events.

Two years ago, when I last attended there were 1,000 walkers and runners. This year they topped 1,500!
It wasn’t always like that…

About a decade ago, I was sitting at my desk. I got a phone call from a young man who was engaged to Katie WEwing, the daughter of a PH patient. Our staff at the time was a couple of part-timers and I. Eddie Davis wanted to start a walk at Stanford and wondered how we could help. I’m afraid we didn’t do much for him…but he did a great deal for us. His questions helped us understand how to create future support and guidelines. I saw him – and the entire Ewing family – at this year’s walk. We spoke about that first year and the 120 who came that fist year. For me, it’s another in the continuing proofs that all good things start with an idea and someone willing to give them a try.

One of the nicer moments in a great day was at the race start. Dennis Hernandez, a PH patient at Stanford, was asked to come to the mic and countdown to the start. Once he was on the stage, he was surprised with the first Patient of the Year award. It was a very moving moment. From what I heard before this surprise moment, he has been a real gift to the PH community at Stanford – visiting with new patients regularly and helping them understand what is going on in their lives.

Rita Orth, a patient and PHA board member led a team of folks circulating through the crowd gathering signatures on a petition asking Senator Feinstein to introduce the PH Research and Education Act in the Senate. The response was fantastic.

There are so many people who are responsible when an event like this grows. I can’t name them all but Kristi Kerivan is one who can’t be overlooked. She’s been a consistent force in the event’s growth and I’m sure she’s already working on next year’s 10th anniversary event.

Take a look at some pictures from the 2009 Stanford Race here.

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