PPD Beach2Battleship Triathlon Heroes Share Inspirational Stories of Hope

Race competitors spread the word about participating in life-changing research

11 Sept. 2013


WILMINGTON, N.C., (September 11, 2013) – Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC (PPD) today announced the 2013 PPD Heroes team of athletes competing in the Oct. 26 PPD Beach2Battleship Triathlon, one of the top-rated iron distance events in the world.

PPD Heroes have overcome illness and adversity, and are leading the effort to raise public awareness about participating in clinical trials for the development of treatments to meet the world’s most pressing medical needs. Clinical research has helped the team of PPD Heroes overcome life-threatening illnesses – ulcerative colitis, cancer, diabetes and cystic fibrosis – to achieve their personal and athletic goals.

“The PPD Heroes are remarkable athletes and true ambassadors in advancing understanding of the important role of participating in clinical research,” said David Simmons, chairman and CEO of PPD and a PPD Beach2Battleship competitor. “Their inspirational stories offer hope to everyone battling illness. These courageous people have gone beyond simply surviving an illness and today are thriving and energizing others facing similar health issues. PPD is proud to sponsor this race and these heroes.”

The 2013 PPD Beach2Battleship Heroes will be honored at the PPD Hero Awards, an invitation-only celebration at PPD's global headquarters in Wilmington on Oct. 25:

Laura Hull lived with ulcerative colitis for 15 years and participated in two clinical trials while battling the disease. “My hope is that what was learned from my participation helped further the advancement of effective treatments for ulcerative colitis,” she said. “I am thankful for those who participated in clinical trials in the years prior to my diagnosis, as they paved the way for the excellent medical care I received. I stood on the shoulders of those who had gone before me in the search for treatments for ulcerative colitis and pioneered the surgery I had to find relief. Now, others can stand on my shoulders.”

Vic Kinnunen has lived with Type 1 diabetes for more than 36 years. “When I was first diagnosed, there were no insulin pumps, no synthetic insulin, no blood glucose meters and no continuous glucose monitors,” he said. “Today, clinical trials focused on integrated delivery systems, closed-loop dual-hormone delivery systems, ‘smart’ insulin, longer-lasting insulin and faster acting insulin are among those that will improve the lives of the continually growing diabetic population. I have all of these tools at my disposal, thanks to clinical trials.”

Kristen Adelman is a four-time cancer survivor who has heard the words “you have less than a year to live” more than once. After chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant failed, Kristen was left with little hope for treatment. Her doctor had the insight to contact the National Cancer Institute and found a suitable clinical trial. “The treatment I received wouldn’t have been available if it hadn’t been for the trial,” Kristen said. “I know this clinical trial saved my life. Today, 10 years later, I am healthy, living and loving my life, and cancer-free.”

In 2001, Wendy Chioji was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Her oncologist, who was also her marathon training partner, suggested Wendy participate in a clinical trial to potentially help herself and others. One of the chemotherapy medications worked for Wendy. “Now 12 years clear of cancer, I believe it’s the debt of the cured to help those who come after,” she said. “Before I even knew if I’d get better, participating in a clinical trial was a way for me to pay it forward. I feel good about my participation and spreading the word about clinical trials.”

At 23-weeks pregnant, Mary Kreis had surgery to remove a melanoma and sentinel lymph node. Within two weeks, she underwent a second surgery after doctors learned the cancer had spread. A few weeks later, Mary gave birth to a healthy baby girl, named Viva to symbolize living life to the fullest. “My oncologist told me that if clinical trials had not been conducted in relation to sentinel lymph node surgeries prior to my procedure, they might not have been able to confidently perform the surgery on a pregnant woman and identify a cancerous tumor in this node,” Mary said. “Without clinical trials, my cancer may have been missed.”

In 2000, at age 6, Garrett Miller had surgery to remove a brain tumor, leaving him profoundly visually impaired. With his father, Eric Miller, by his side, Garrett received six weeks of radiation therapy and 64 weeks of chemotherapy. Along the way Garrett had to relearn to walk and talk. Today, Garrett is an Eagle Scout who has traveled extensively and enjoys sports and giving back to others. “We attribute Garrett’s survival to the clinical trial he participated in,” said Eric. “The clinical trial took his survival rate from 50/50 at the beginning of treatment to 90 percent at the end of treatment and the close of the trial.”

Meg Roberts was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 10. A triathlete, Meg credits clinical researchers for developing the therapies that help her manage diabetes. “Certainly, 100 or even 50 years ago, my quality of life would not have been what it is today, without medical research and the availability of insulin,” she said. “Even though there is no cure for diabetes, at least it is manageable because of previous research. While I have to monitor every bite I eat, every lap I swim, every ride and every run, I can still live life to the fullest, because of the diabetes treatments developed through clinical research.”

Emily Schaller is a cystic fibrosis (CF) patient and founder of the Rock CF Foundation, who has participated in multiple clinical trials. “When I was diagnosed with CF in 1983, at 18 months old, the average life expectancy was only in the high teens,” she said. “Thanks to advancements made through clinical research, the life expectancy for CF patients has risen 20 years since then. Now, there are thousands of adults with CF who are not just living, but truly thriving.”

Now in its sixth year, the PPD Beach2Battleship Triathlon has been rated among the top five triathlons by readers of Triathlete magazine. More than 2,000 athletes from 45 U.S. states and 10 nations will participate, helping generate approximately $4 million in local economic impact. Funds raised will benefit the Wilmington Family YMCA. PPD Beach2Battleship is produced by Set Up Events, one of the largest triathlon production companies in the U.S., with more than 150 events produced in eight states annually.

The full iron distance triathlon includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run, and the event also offers a half triathlon course. The race starts in Wrightsville Beach, winds through New Hanover, Pender, Sampson and Bladen counties and ends in downtown Wilmington.

About PPD
PPD is a leading global contract research organization providing drug discovery, development, lifecycle management and laboratory services. Our clients and partners include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, academic and government organizations. With offices in 46 countries and more than 12,500 professionals worldwide, PPD applies innovative technologies, therapeutic expertise and a commitment to quality to help clients and partners accelerate the delivery of safe and effective therapeutics and maximize the returns on their R&D investments. For more information, visit

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