Runner With a Cause: Standing Up to POTS 5K

Wittenberg is hosting a 5K run to help raise money for the Standing Up to POTS Foundation on May 2 at 10 a.m. on Alumni Way.

Pre-registration for the race is $25 for adults, $15 for students and $10 for children. Day of registration is $30 for adults, $20 for students and $15 for children.

The race will begin on Alumni Way and wind its way around Wittenberg’s campus. The run is being organized by the Health Education and Resources club, or HEART, a healthy living advocacy group on campus headed by senior Ria Tignor. The group’s goal is to raise $1,000-3,000 to donate to POTS research.

POTS stands for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. The malfunctioning of the nervous system causes an increase in the heart rate if an individual is standing upright.

This is the first 5K ever organized by HEART. Currently, 30 people have signed up to participate in the race. HEART, with the help of the Pre-Health club, Tiger Fund and Wittenberg’s Sports Medicine program, has raised $765 to donate to the Standing Up to POTS Foundation.

The Springfield community will also be participating in the event. Springfield’s Fire Department has donated to the cause, and several members are participating. The Springfield News-Sun is advertising the event, and several local churches have gotten involved as well.

“HEART was one of the 100 things I signed up for freshman year,” Tignor said. “I am the only senior now, and I have been working on rebuilding the club this year.”

The Standing Up to Pots Foundation was founded just six months ago by Cathy Pederson, professor of biology here at Wittenberg. Pederson’s daughter, Lilly Pederson, who was diagnosed with the disease at age 10, is the inspiration for the Standing Up to POTS Foundation.

Since her daughter’s diagnosis, Pederson has dedicated herself to raising funds for finding a cure for POTS, raising awareness and connecting with other parents with children suffering from the disease. Pederson’s daughters raised $4,000 by publishing a children’s book that they wrote and illustrated together.

“What I have learned is that every family with POTS is different, and every person’s experience with POTS is unique,” Pederson said. “A treatment that works for one person may be a disaster for someone else.”

Some people suffer from severe dizziness and fainting spells because of POTS. Others suffering severe symptoms may have limited mobility because being upright is extremely exhausting.

“When standing, Lilly’s heart rate is like what a normal person’s would be if they were running,” Pederson said. “It isn’t deadly, but it really affects the quality of life.”

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