The 6 minute walk marathon fundraiser required participants to use straws. Why straws? Well, trying to walk breathing only through a straw simulates exactly how a PH patient feels on a daily basis. The shortness of breath felt trying to breath through a straw while walking hopefully gives a person a sense of how a PH patient feels trying to get dressed, or walk up a flight of stairs, or down a short hallway. The walkers had a choice in straws: a short straw, a long one, or a skinny straw. Each had a different degree of difficulty, with the shortest straw being the easiest, and the skinny straw being the hardest.
All the participants registered to do the walk, totalling a little over 100 people. The huge majority of people were athletic students, including almost the entire baseball team! After a wonderful welcome and introduction as to the purpose of the PH walk, everyone went outside and began the marathon. The path of the 6 minute walk was around the student center, near the library, and back to the student center. There were PH facts along the entire path. There was a timer counting down the minutes, and paramedics on stand-by just in case breathing through a straw caused a medical issue for someone! Everyone did well, though, including myself and one other PH patient who had attended!
After the walk, everyone gathered for pizza and drinks, and a little more money was raised by selling tickets for several raffle and door prizes. Eventually I joined Emily on the stage, and thanked the crowd for coming and experiencing what it felt like to have PH, if only for a few minutes. The raffles were given away, and soon the crowd had thinned out. While the event was short and sweet, I hope that it served it's purpose, which was to raise awareness of this disease. I do know that at least the athletes at the school are aware of it now! Hopefully another walk in the future can be planned, and perhaps be a bit bigger and involve more of the community!
Side note: Emily and I, as well as a couple other athletes, were filmed for one of the local news stations a couple days before the walk. We each were asked questions about the walk, why we were doing it, etc. I did share some of what I go through living with PH. Three different segments were aired in the early morning hours the day before the fundraiser. I did learn the next day that a few people had written in about the segments, either concerned because they thought they might have PH, or they have had PH for a long time and didn't know there was a support group in the area. I have reached out to these people since, and I'm just glad that a brief amount of TV airtime at least helped a few people!!