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Eight years later, the run for roses continues

Runners release purple balloons to kick off the 5K (Northern Review photo/Holly Dyer)

The eighth annual Run for Roses, hosted May 7th, 2017, promoted cystic fibrosis awareness and research funding. The event was created in honor of Ohio Northern University’s physical therapy graduates Kim and Angela Badertscher.

Angela and Kim were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in 2008. When Angela lost her battle to the disease, her school family was inspired to act. Faculty and students of Ohio Northern’s physical therapy program organized a 5K to honor Angela and her sister Kim, a clinical outreach athletic trainer at Northern.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease which may present early in life, with the median diagnosis occurring between six and eight months of age (www.medscape.com). Young patients often use the term “sixty-five roses” to better pronounce the name of the disease (www.cff.org).

Subsequently, organizers of the first run for roses chose a name that seemed fitting.  To further this theme, the first ten finishers of the run are awarded a pink rose because pink is the color of Angela’s sorority. Runners also release purple balloons at the start of the race because purple represents cystic fibrosis awareness.

Our ultimate goal is to raise enough money that we can pay for all of the “race necessities” and still have a large sum of money to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis organization that the Badertscher family designates.

The race grew over the next few years. Then, Kim’s health began to decline.  In February 2011, after two years on a lung transplant list, Kim’s carbon dioxide levels became extremely elevated. She was admitted to a hospital and placed on life support.  Family and friends would not realize the breadth of Kim’s journey until her discharge in September.

Weeks after Kim's admittance, a pair of donor lungs became available. There were many complications during the transplant procedure and Kim’s surgeons were forced to leave her thoracic cavity open for a few days until these issues could be resolved.  Kim woke up in the rescue unit surrounded by other patients on ventilators. Her mother told her she received the lung transplant.

In the months that Kim was confined to her bed on life support, she lost a lot of muscle mass. Kim was transferred to a rehabilitation facility so that she could relearn how to eat and walk. Kim was discharged in September 2011 and on her way back to an active lifestyle.

Today, Kim’s health has greatly improved and she continues to run the 5K. She says that seeing “the roles reversed” granted her a fresh perspective on what it means to be a physical trainer.  The courage of the Badertscher family and the support of Ohio Northern’s physical therapy program have caused great strides in increasing campus awareness of the disease and funding national research.

Over the past 8 years, we have been able to donate over $46,800 to benefit Cystic Fibrosis research. The race towards finding new treatments for the disease will not slow down anytime soon.

The annual Run for Roses at Ohio Northern University is a perfect example of this drive to improve the quality of life of those affected by cystic fibrosis.