Special Events Stories & Photos

Stride to the Cure PHA 5K Run/Walk for a Cure

Stride to the Cure ParticipantOn Sunday, May 6, 2012, 250 people gathered at the Chicago Botanical Gardens for the “Inaugural Stride to the Cure PHA 5K Walk/Run.” Spearheaded by Heather Scherzer and the local PH support group, this was the first PHA Walk/Run to take place in the Chicago area in recent history and proved to be a great gathering of PH patients, families, caregivers, friends and medical professionals.

Heather had been thinking about hosting a PHA special event in the area for quite some time as she wanted to create an opportunity for all of the patients, families and medical professionals of the local PH centers to connect. By hosting a special event, Heather was able to do just that – foster a sense of community among all patients and families in the Chicago area, while raising PH awareness and funds for PH research and patient-and family-serving programs.

The Chicago Botanical Gardens provided a beautiful backdrop for this event. When searching for an appropriate venue, Heather and the planning committee wanted a location that was easily accessible, could accommodate a large crowd, offer various participation options, and be cost effective. The Chicago Botanical Gardens ended up being the perfect location. Event participants could run or walk the 5K course that circled the botanic gardens, or participate in a shorter, more patient-friendly route – with both options still providing a beautiful view of the garden exhibits. Another perk:parking was included in the event registration fee as well as the option to spend the rest of the day exploring the Gardens after the event.

Stride to the Cure ParticipantsDr. Michael Cuttica, pulmonologist at the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, kicked off the day’s events by welcoming the crowd and providing words of encouragement and thanks to all participants. After the Walk and Run, attendees gathered for food and beverages, while Heather gave the closing remarks and announced the raffle and race winners.

When asked what is was like to plan an inaugural 5K Walk/Run, Heather admits that it was a lot of hard work, especially in the beginning with trying to get everyone on her committee on board. Another challenge for a first time event – keeping the budget low. Many people had really big ideas, but for a first time event, it's important to keep an eye on costs. Heather attributes being organized and sticking to an outlined budget to the event’s success.

Stride to the Cure ParticipantsThroughout the planning process, Heather enjoyed watching fundraising grow on the Stride to the Cure registration site, which was powered by FirstGiving. This event raised over $15,000 online! She was so impressed with how much each of the 14 walk teams were able to raise that immediately following the event, she wrote personal thank you notes to each of them in recognition of their hard work and their ability to help spread PH awareness. Another helpful hint for first time event-organizers – Heather was surprised at how many people registered on-site. She was expecting only a few, but ended up having 50 people register on the day of the event.

The hard work and dedication of Heather and her planning committee really paid off as the “Inaugural Stride to the Cure PHA Fun Walk/Run” raised over $21,000 for PH research and patient-and-family serving programs. Heather said that seeing everything come to fruition and the energy of patients, families and medical professionals made the effort worth it. Heather and her planning committee want to keep the momentum they have established going and plans for next year’s event are already being made.



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The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.