Cyclists unite on new team to promote cystic fibrosis awareness

Endurance racer Sornson among new Team CF racers

A Cystic Fibrosis researcher and professor has put together a new mountain bike team for 2010 to raise awareness of the disease and funding for research relating to the disease. The squad will support athletes ranging from elite professionals to beginners, and it will include some young adults living with cystic fibrosis (CF).

The Team CF elite mountain bike squad, based in the mid-Atlantic US, will include Kristin Gavin, Cheryl Sornson, Nikki Theimann, and Selene Yeager. Kaitlyn Broadhurst, an athlete with CF who is new to cycling, will also take on the challenge of mountain bike racing. Sornson is a regular on the domestic endurance mountain bike scene, especially at stage races and 100-milers.

Retired pro Chris Eatough will serve as coach for the mountain bike team.

Dr. James Wilson, of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, is the founder and manager of the team. Wilson, also a competitive bike racer for 10 years, has been researching CF for over 20 years. He's been impressed by the role exercise can play in improving the quality of life for those living with CF.

Approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States have cystic fibrosis. An additional 10 million more - or about one in every 31 Americans - are carriers of the defective CF gene, but do not have the disease. Most people are diagnosed with CF at birth through newborn screening, or before the age of two.

CF is a life-threatening genetic disease with no known cure. It causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, particularly the lungs and pancreas. Mucus also can block the digestive tract and pancreas.

Complementing the elite team, a club-level version of Team CF will recruit cyclists with CF who have bike-related objective for 2010 such as competing in amateur races or participating in a cycling benefit. It will also consider applicants in two other categories: 1) health care providers or family/friends of CF individuals who will use the bike to promote the team's mission and 2) elite/pro cyclists who wish to ride for Team CF and serve as an ambassador.

New members will get support in the form of some free cycling clothing, discounted gear and and modest financial support to help them achieve their goals. Membership applications are being accepted for the Club Team at www.teamcf.org.

The team will also sponsor some elite road and 'cross riders based in the New England area.

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