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On November 3, twenty-two Team Ritter runners ran the ING NYC Marathon and earned Finisher medals.  Although this was not the first time some of the runners had completed a marathon, it may have been the most meaningful for them.  Why?  Because this race was only one milestone among many during their journey to the marathon.

Over the last five months, Team Ritter’s 2013 ING New York City Marathon running team has informed hundreds of people about thoracic aortic disease by sharing their stories at health fairs, during media interviews, at fundraising events, and by talking to anyone who would listen.  To date, they have raised over $114,000 so we can inform and educate the public and medical professionals about thoracic aortic disease, provide support to individuals and families affected by aortic disease, and fund research.  And they have done all this while training for a marathon!

We are very proud of our team.  Please join us in congratulating Team Ritter on a job well done!

2013 Team Ritter - ING NYC Marathon with Amy Yasbeck, Stella, and Jason Ritter

2013 Team Ritter - ING NYC Marathon team with Amy Yasbeck, Stella, and Jason Ritter

#TeamRitter
@JRFromtheHeart
@JohnRitterPRGM

HOUSTON – (Oct. 9, 2013) – Friends and family members of people with thoracic aortic disease and fans of the late legendary comedic actor John Ritter will come together as Team Ritter to raise funds for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health (JRF) at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 3, 2013.

“We are so proud and grateful to again be one of the official charities of this year’s NYC Marathon and have the opportunity to raise much-needed funds for lifesaving research and education,” said actress, writer and aortic health advocate Amy Yasbeck, the widow of Ritter, who died from an acute aortic dissection in 2003. “Team Ritter runners are passionate about increasing awareness of aortic dissection and its risk factors and are committed to raising funds to support the JRF.”

Funds from the NYC Marathon raised for the JRF will go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections. To donate, visit Edward Norton’s Crowdrise online fundraising community: www.crowdrise.com/TeamRitterINGNYCMarathon2013.

“The funds raised by Team Ritter will allow us to continue our genetic research to identify genes or altered DNA that increases someone’s risk for an acute aortic dissection. By identifying who is at risk, we can prevent premature deaths due to aortic dissections,” said Dianna Milewicz, M.D., Ph.D., director of UTHealth’s John Ritter Research Program. “It will also help us spread information to both physicians and the public about symptoms and genetic risk factors for aortic dissections, including the fact that this condition can run in families.” Milewicz is professor and George H. W. Bush Chair in Cardiovascular Research in the Division of Medical Genetics at the UTHealth Medical School.
Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise
Read more and meet the team here: Read more

Nicole Kreisler will be one of 15 individuals running to raise money and increase awarenesss of thoracic aortic disease for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health (JRF) at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2012.  Funds from the NYC Marathon raised for the JRF will go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections. 

Meet Nicole: 

As an operating room nurse, Nicole Kreisler has seen her share of what cardiovascular disease can do to patients. She also has fond memories of watching John Ritter in “Three’s Company.” So the Milwaukee resident was excited to learn that she will be part of Team Ritter at the ING NYC Marathon. “Jack Tripper’s character and physical humor gave my brother and me many laughs,” said Kreisler, who is married to a fellow marathon runner and has two children. “I think we know every episode by heart. With my work background, I have a great understanding of aortic and vascular disease. By running for the John Ritter Foundation, I am able to support someone I was fond of, as well as share information and educate people on an important disease.” A longtime runner, the 37-year-old has run four marathons in the last two years, including the Boston Marathon. This will be her first time in the NYC event.

Text RITTERNK to 41444 to donate $10 (or specify a different amount in the text message) to JRF to support Nicole’s run. Or donate online: http://www.crowdrise.com/TeamRitterNYCMarathon2012/fundraiser/nicolekreisler.

Read the full press release here.

Deborah Mann Lake, UTHealth Media Relations
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030
                                                            
http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/                                                             http://www.nyrr.org/

Monica Slack will be one of 15 individuals running to raise money and increase awarenesss of thoracic aortic disease for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health (JRF) at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2012.  Funds from the NYC Marathon raised for the JRF will go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections. 

Meet Monica: 

Acute care nurse practitioner Monica Slack has daily encounters with patients who have suffered acute aortic dissections and aneurysms, as well as other cardiovascular diseases. Working in the cardiac surgical intensive care unit at The University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, she works hard to educate her patients about their disease. The 25-year-old is also a dedicated marathon runner and she didn’t hesitate to sign up for Team Ritter. “As someone who works with these patients firsthand, I would like nothing more than to combine my love of running with a cause about which I am passionate and feel as though I can incorporate into my daily work-life. These patients are often unaware of the function of the aorta, how it dissects and the high likelihood of mortality following perforation of the aorta. They are also unaware of the importance of blood pressure control in preventing aortic pathology,” Slack said. “A charity such as this one can contribute to preventative aortic health education in the outpatient/public spectrum.”

Text RITTERMS to 41444 to donate $10 (or specify a different amount in the text message) to JRF to support Monica’s run. Or donate online: http://www.crowdrise.com/monicaslack.

Read the full press release here.

Deborah Mann Lake, UTHealth Media Relations
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030
                                                            
http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/                                                             http://www.nyrr.org/

Robin Plonsker will be one of 15 individuals running to raise money and increase awarenesss of thoracic aortic disease for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health (JRF) at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2012.  Funds from the NYC Marathon raised for the JRF will go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections. 

Meet Robin: 

When Robin Plonsker’s father felt almost unbearable pain in the left side of his chest nine years ago, he thought he was having a heart attack. Robert Tauber, D.D.S., called his cardiologist, who told him to dial 911. The emergency operator asked careful questions about the pain. He told her it was the worst pain he had ever experienced, that it was not radiating into his left arm and he could almost point to exactly where the pain was located. She recognized the possible symptoms of an aortic dissection and set him on a treatment path that would save his life. If an aortic aneurysm is misdiagnosed as a heart attack and anticoagulants are administered to the patient, the patient can bleed to death through the dissection. “He was very fortunate in that the dissection occurred in his descending aorta and he had a 911 operator and a team of emergency department physicians and nurses treating him who recognized that he was not having a heart attack as he initially thought and did the imaging necessary to diagnose a dissecting aorta,” said Plonsker, a Larchmont, N.Y., resident. “Therefore, my father was given the medical treatment he required to address this acute, life-threatening situation. I know that others have not been as fortunate, and I am supporting this cause to raise awareness of aortic dissection and, I hope, improve the likelihood that it is properly diagnosed.”

Text RITTERRP to 41444 to donate $10 (or specify a different amount in the text message) to JRF to support Robin’s run. Or donate online: http://www.crowdrise.com/TeamRitterNYCMarathon2012/fundraiser/robinplonsker.

Read the full press release here.

Deborah Mann Lake, UTHealth Media Relations
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030
                                                            
http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/                                                             http://www.nyrr.org/

Amy Derksen will be one of 15 individuals running to raise money and increase awarenesss of thoracic aortic disease for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health (JRF) at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2012.  Funds from the NYC Marathon raised for the JRF will go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections. 

Meet Amy: 

In 2009, with no known history of heart or aortic disease, then 37-year-old Amy Derksen was shocked to discover that she had a bicuspid aortic valve, a birth defect that led to a thoracic aortic aneurysm requiring immediate surgery. In a bicuspid valve, there are only two leaflets instead of the normal three, which allows blood to backwash and puts stress on the thoracic aorta. “At the time, I was busy raising an 18-month-old and a 3-year-old and I was in the best shape of my life,” said the Denver resident, who blogged about the experience. “I soon realized that I was so lucky and blessed that the condition was diagnosed before it was too late.” Now 40, the former public relations manager is a member of Mended Hearts and has visited patients in the hospital to share her story. She is also an avid runner with a lifelong goal to run a marathon. “I am passionate about telling people about aortic disease and passing on the Ritter Rules whenever the opportunity presents itself.  I proudly wear my scar as a reminder to live life to its fullest and be thankful for every day,” she said.

Text RITTERAD to 41444 to donate $10 (or specify a different amount in the text message) to JRF to support Amy’s run. Or donate online: http://www.crowdrise.com/amyderksen.

Read the full press release here.

Deborah Mann Lake, UTHealth Media Relations
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030
                                                            
http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/                                                             http://www.nyrr.org/

Jaclyn Morrison will be one of 15 individuals running to raise money and increase awarenesss of thoracic aortic disease for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health (JRF) at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2012.  Funds from the NYC Marathon raised for the JRF will go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections. 

Meet Jaclyn: 

Jaclyn Morrison’s father was her biggest fan, as well as her coach, when she trained for last year’s New York City Marathon. So after he died in February from a thoracic aortic dissection and she found out about Team Ritter, the Long Island native didn’t hesitate to apply for the team. “I think it will be so awesome and it’s what my dad would want me to do to help raise awareness,” said Morrison, 24, a graduate student and Lacrosse coach who works at the family business, Rose Fence. Her father, 55, had been in good shape, worked out regularly and liked to take eight-mile walks. So when he complained of loss of vision and pressure in his chest, it came out of the blue. He was rushed to a nearby emergency room in Brooklyn, where doctors ruled out stroke and heart attack. But they missed the dissection, she said, and when he collapsed in his room, it was too late. “Running the marathon allows me to make something positive out of a horrible loss. It’s like it’s meant to be,” she said.

Text RITTERJM to 41444 to donate $10 (or specify a different amount in the text message) to JRF to support Jaclyn’s run. Or donate online: http://www.crowdrise.com/TeamRitterNYCMarathon2012/fundraiser/jaclynmorrison.

Read the full press release here.

Deborah Mann Lake, UTHealth Media Relations
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030
                                                            
http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/                                                             http://www.nyrr.org/

Victoria Ramirez will be one of 15 individuals running to raise money and increase awarenesss of thoracic aortic disease for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health (JRF) at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2012.  Funds from the NYC Marathon raised for the JRF will go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections. 

Meet Victoria: 

When Washington, D.C., resident Victoria Ramirez, 26, learned that the John Ritter Foundation would be one of the official charities of the ING New York City Marathon, she did not hesitate to ask to join Team Ritter. Not only could she raise money to fight a disease that had taken her aunt, but she could fulfill her longtime goal of running the prestigious New York City marathon. “Aunt Michele was fun-loving; the life of every party. Since that awful day more than three years ago, there have been good and bad days,” said Ramirez, whose aunt died suddenly from a thoracic aortic dissection at the age of 45. “I sometimes feel helpless to do anything when I reflect on what happened, and I miss her terribly – but the John Ritter Foundation has provided me with an opportunity to do something. If I can raise money to support research and awareness, maybe I can help someone else’s aunt, mother, daughter. I think Michele would be glad to know that I am doing something positive in her memory.”

Text RITTERVR to 41444 to donate $10 (or specify a different amount in the text message) to JRF to support Victoria’s run. Or donate online: http://www.crowdrise.com/victoriaramirez.

Read the full press release here.

Deborah Mann Lake, UTHealth Media Relations
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030
                                                            
http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/                                                             http://www.nyrr.org/

Edward M. Cooning IV will be one of 15 individuals running to raise money and increase awarenesss of thoracic aortic disease for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health (JRF) at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2012.  Funds from the NYC Marathon raised for the JRF will go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections. 

Meet Ed: 

Six years ago, when Jonathan “Jonnie” Miller died suddenly of a thoracic aortic dissection as a result of suspected undiagnosed Marfan syndrome, Edward M. Cooning IV and fellow friends formed Jonnie’s Goodguys in his honor. Miller had planned to run the One America Mini Marathon in Indianapolis that year and his goal became their goal. The small group, committed to elevating awareness of Marfan syndrome, has grown into an organization that has raised nearly $2,200 for the National Marfan Foundation. It also donates to other charities and coaches new runners through training. This year, Cooning, 38, launched My Heart Run 2012 with a personal goal of running the five world major marathons in 2012, including the ING New York City Marathon. “It’s the goal of Jonnie’s Goodguys to educate and generally live a healthier lifestyle so that we are all around a little longer with our loved ones,” Cooning said.

Text RITTEREC to 41444 to donate $10 (or specify a different amount in the text message) to JRF to support Ed’s run. Or donate online: http://www.crowdrise.com/emciv.

Read the full press release here.

Deborah Mann Lake, UTHealth Media Relations
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030
                                                            
http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/                                                             http://www.nyrr.org/

Cathy Quitania-Pool will be one of 15 individuals running to raise money and increase awarenesss of thoracic aortic disease for the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health (JRF) at the ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2012.  Funds from the NYC Marathon raised for the JRF will go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections. 

Meet Cathy: 

Tomball, Texas resident Catherine Quitania-Pool lost both her 62-year-old father and her 39-year-old sister to aneurysms. Her father’s abdominal aneurysm ruptured in 1997 during a camping trip. As a nurse who knew aneurysms often have a genetic basis, she encouraged her family members to watch for any symptoms. But 11 years after the death of her father, her sister unexpectedly died of an acute aortic dissection. “Aneurysms and thoracic aortic diseases do not care if a person is a grandfather, husband or father; a mother, wife, sister, or daughter; or even a famous actor, husband, father, or son like John Ritter,” she wrote in a letter to the John Ritter Foundation. “Symptoms of back pain or discomfort may be not be taken seriously and health care providers, unless aware of familial medical history, may not treat appropriately or because of insurance constraints, may not order the proper tests. Thoracic disease is a silent killer that leaves loved ones lost and in despair.” Quintania-Pool began running in her sister Marianne’s memory to begin to heal. “I started running because she could not. I started running because I could. I started running to find some peace for myself. I started running because I needed a place to go and feel alive again,” said Quitania-Pool, who has two teenage children and will turn 40 just before the race.

Text RITTERCP to 41444 to donate $10 (or specify a different amount in the text message) to JRF to support Cathy’s run. Or donate online: http://www.crowdrise.com/cathyquitaniapool.

Read the full press release here.

Deborah Mann Lake, UTHealth Media Relations
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030
                                                            
http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/                                                             http://www.nyrr.org/