World's First Fully Recovered Pariplegic to Compete in Race Across Desert

May 16, 2006
Patient Advocate Runs to Raise Awareness for Spinal Cord Injuries

(Baltimore, MD) - Patrick Rummerfield, the world's first fully covered quadriplegic, will participate in the 4-Desert Race, an invitation-only race for elite athletes managed by RacingThePlanet® (www.racingtheplanet.com). Rummerfeld, 52, will run to raise funds and awareness for the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, part of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD.

Rummerfield is a patient advocate for the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. The Center is directed by Dr. John McDonald, the lead neurologist to late actor Christopher Reeve, and applies the same advanced restorative therapy techniques to children that produced remarkable gains in the late actor. Rummerfield's own experience with restorative therapies has allowed him to in run several races, including an Iron Man triathlon and a race through Antarctica. He also holds the world record for electric vehicles (245 mph).

"When I learned about the 4 Deserts series, I just had to experience it. I thought it would be a great opportunity to raise awareness throughout the world about novel therapies for people living with spinal cord injury," says Rummerfield. "I am the living example of what people can accomplish when they set their minds to recover. People living with paralysis can enjoy the benefits of exercise and new treatments. The problem is that few people know about these therapies and how research has advanced. I hope that when people see me finish this race they feel encouraged and I will do everything I can to tell as many people that cross my path that there are other options available to them."

The competitors will cross the deserts of Gobi (China), Atacama (Chile), Sahara (Egypt) and Antarctica carrying their own gear and food supplies. Each of the competition legs lasts seven days and covers approximately 150 miles (240 kilometers).

The first race, which starts on May 28 in the Gobi Desert, in China, is known as "the race of no return." Salt lakes, mountaintops, narrow canyons, temperatures of over 120º F and altitudes ranging from 50 to over 10,000 feet are some of the challenges racers will have endure.

The race is far more enduring to Rummerfield than to a well trained athlete. Although he has recovered much of his motor and sensory function, Rummerfield still has many of the clinical characteristics of a quadriplegic.

"Patrick's body does not handle extreme temperatures as well as other people. He can easily dehydrate and have a heat stroke," says Dr. Brian Krabak of Johns Hopkins University, medical director for the race.

The adrenaline and stress running through the body of these athletes take them to a level where they don't notice the danger they might be in. With Patrick, this can happen much faster, so the medical team has to be very careful. However, I am amazed with Patrick's ability and stamina to take these challenges. He has a message to get across, and I am sure he will finish this race. Both Rummerfield and Dr. Krabak will have a daily journal during the days of the Gobi Desert race, as well as a photo gallery at www.jhintl.net.

Daily journals of the other competitors, a complete photo gallery and information about the 3 remaining races can be found at www.racingtheplanet.com.

About RacingThePlanet® RacingThePlanet® is an international outdoor lifestyle brand and global leader in organizing some of the world's most prestigious outdoor events including the 4 DesertsTM, a series of 7-day footraces across the world's largest and most forbidding deserts. These events include the Gobi MarchTM in China, the Atacama CrossingTM in Chile, the Sahara RaceTM in Egypt and The Last DesertTM in Antarctica. With current plans to expand into merchandising, RacingThePlanet® is headquartered in Hong Kong and has representative offices in the United States, Korea, Japan and Chile.

About the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury The International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute is the first facility of its kind devoted to restoration and recovery of spinal cord injuries and paralysis in children - even for those with chronic injuries. The Center's Advanced Restoration Therapies have shown great promise in helping individuals with paralysis to recover function and independence, offering hope to those whose injuries occurred both many months and many years ago. Kennedy Krieger Institute helps more than 12,000 children each year with disorders of the brain and spinal cord, and is home to a team of investigators who are contributing to the understanding of how disorders develop and pioneering new interventions and earlier diagnosis. For more information, visit www.spinalcordrecovery.org or www.kennedykrieger.org.

Media Inquiries:

Corrie Allen
(202) 955-6222
callen@spectrumscience.com