FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2007
Contact: K.E. Schwab
SRU freshman with cystic fibrosis readies for 26-day,
2,000-mile bicycle trip to raise public awareness
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Brian McCandless, a West Sunbury freshman at Slippery Rock University, has battled cystic fibrosis his entire life. Beginning Wednesday - shortly after completing finals - he will embark on a 2,000-mile bicycle ride to help raise public awareness about his illness.
McCandless has spent a lot of time thinking about the 26-day ride that will take him from Pittsburgh to Tallahassee, Florida, and back. He's been planning his ride since before entering SRU last fall. The health and physical education teaching major was born with CF, a hereditary illness.
"The ride is something I have wanted to do since talking with doctors and learning that many people, especially parents of newly diagnosed children, often don't understand the illness," McCandless said. His primary message will be "the disease does not have to beat us."
"For two semesters, and over breaks, I have trained and prepared for the ride," McCandless said. His plans call for an 8 a.m. start Wednesday from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
McCandless said he's had a lot of help from bicycle compatriots and other outdoor enthusiasts to plan and raise funds for his trip. SRU's Outdoor Adventures and the SRU Outing Club have shown strong support by sponsoring events such as a recent "Mini-Triathlon" at the Robert N. Aebersold Student Recreation Center. The "Brian's Ride" theme event drew more than 100 participants. The regional media has also previewed his trip through a number of news stories.
He expects to travel approximately 100 miles daily with breaks along the way to talk with people about cystic fibrosis and the need for continued research into its causes and cures. Cystic fibrosis affects the respiratory and digestive systems, resulting in problems in breathing and maintaining healthy body weight.
"I recognize CF affects my daily routine. I never allow it to limit me in any aspect of life. In my pursuit to remain healthy and active, I have excelled as an athlete, as well as a cyclist," he said. "My goal is to show that people with CF can do amazing things and live extraordinary lives."
McCandless estimates his ride will cost $8,000 and has sought donations and gear to support the endeavor. He said he had reached his budget goals and will donate any addition funds received to CF research.
The ride is endorsed by the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "'Brian's Ride' is a challenge and highly remarkable cycle event to aid in the foundation's mission to ensure brighter futures for all individuals battling this disease," said Mary Pat Joseph, executive director of the CF chapter.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.
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