Team CF is rolling into its fifth year with an expanded mission, a larger squad, and a new name: Rare Disease Cycling, all aimed at raising awareness and ultimately research funds to fight the spectrum of rare genetic diseases well beyond cystic fibrosis, including muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia and more.
"This new direction allows our cyclists to have an even greater impact on the lives of those suffering from rare diseases," said team director Jim Wilson, who is also a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. "We will do so through advocacy and a very aggressive program to raise money for rare disease research."
To date the members of Team Rare Disease Cycling have been a dominant force in East Coast racing in the United States, particularly on the endurance scene. Their success continued in 2013 as the team dominated the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series, winning the series championship in the women's (Cheryl Sornson) and singlespeed (Gerry Pflug) categories and placing first (Christian Tanguy), second (Cary Smith) and third (Rob Spreng) in men's overall.
The team also made a splash in the mountain bike epic stage racing scene with Selene Yeager and her teammate, Specialized MTB Factory Team racer Rebecca Rusch dominating in the women's category of the Brasil Ride and Sornson and Pflug securing third place podium positions in their respective divisions of the La Ruta de Los Conquistadores.
For 2014, the elite team will remain the same and will also include pro mountain bike and elite cyclo-cross racer, Cole Oberman. T
"I'm so excited to be a part of the gathering momentum for the research of rare diseases and to be able to raise funds and awareness for this purpose by doing something I am passionate about: riding and racing my bike," said returning racer Stephanie Swan of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
To facilitate its broader mission, the new team will partner with the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Orphan Disease Research and Therapy to help raise vitally needed funds for rare disease research. Genetic diseases such as muscular dystrophy primarily affect children, often with tragic consequences.
"While science has made advances in biomedical research that provide the tools to develop therapies for these diseases, the programs to do so aren't well funded by the biopharmaceutical industry because there are too few people affected to yield a large financial return," said Wilson. "Rare Disease Cycling aims to bring much needed attention - and funds - to these programs to find treatments and cures."
The Rare Disease Cycling and the Orphan Disease Center at Penn will hold a benefit ride on May 3, 2014 to raise money for rare disease research in what is being called The Million Dollar Bike Ride. 100% of monies raised will go straight to rare disease research.
For more information on the elite and grass roots parts of the Rare Disease Cycling team, visit www.rarediseasecycling.org. For more information on the Million Dollar Bike Ride, visit www.pennmedicine.org/milliondollarbikeride.