In September 2016, Jerry Cahill and Emily Schaller joined a high-profile effort to persuade cystic fibrosis patients like themselves to cycle to improve their health.
The title of the event said it all: It was the third annual Bike to Breathe adventure.
Convinced that cycling helps them combat a disease that affects breathing, they are going on a 3oo-mile bike ride from London to Paris and on to Dublin. It will be partly to raise funds and partly to raise awareness of the disease.
The Boomer Esiason Foundation started Bike to Breathe both to help cystic fibrosis patients and raise awareness about the disease. Esiason, a retired quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals professional football team, started the foundation after his son Gunnar was diagnosed with CF at age 2. He is now 26, and doing all right, his father says — but like everyone with the disease, is hoping for a cure.
The Esiason foundation has a number of objectives, including raising funds for research. It brings together medical and business leaders, patients and patients’ family members to spread the word about the disease and improve the quality of life of people with CF. Altogether, the foundation has raised $130 million to combat the disease.
The trip will give the two, who are Boomer Esiason Foundation ambassadors, a chance to interact with CF patients in Europe and spread the word about the disease among non-patients.
Bike to Breathe has raised more than $600,000 for research that focuses on new treatments, for patient lung transplants, and for scholarships. Several companies, Vertex, Novartis, Chiesi, and Digital Federal Credit Union, are foundation sponsors.
Cahill, who has had a double lung transplant, is responsible for the Esiason foundation’s transplant-grants and scholarship program.
He is also the founder of a series of programs that reach out to CF patients. One is You Cannot Fail, a program that includes a website, two children’s books and apparel for those with cystic fibrosis.
Another of his outreach efforts is Team Boomer, which encourages CF patients to exercise and raises money for scholarships.
Cahill believes regular exercise has helped him survive and live better with his disease.
Schaller became involved in sports and regular physical activity in 2007. Cahill’s story inspired her to follow his lead and take control of her disease. She founded the Rock CF Foundation.
Those interested in following the two bikers’ journey through Europe may do so on Twitter by checking out @JCahillYCF, @RockCFEm, or @Cysticfibrosis, #CFBikeAdventure, or #CureCF. You can also follow the two on Facebook.