5 years ago, a rare disease called Sarcoidosis attacked my heart and nothing has been the same since. Just 2 years ago, I was unable to walk up 7 stairs without getting short of breath, completely fatigued and looking for a place to sit down. I underwent a complicated open heart surgery and have been in recovery mode ever since.
I will never be where I was physically before all this happened. While there is no cure for this disease, I (like many patients) work daily on my recovery. Part of my recovery is trying to walk up stairs. The first goal was to be able to make it up the dozen or so stairs to my bedroom without assistance. As the months went by, I continued to use stairs as a form of exercise.
Earlier this year, I got the idea to walk up the 2000+ stairs of the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago to create awareness and raise research funds for the treatment of Sarcoidosis. However, my request was denied. Then I had another idea. Why not commit to walking up 100,000 stairs in landmark locations across the USA? – That’s the equivalent of 50 Willis Towers!… and I don’t need anyone’s permission.
My Steps are significant to me for many reasons:
- My symptoms first showed up without any warning in March 2011 at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Without my daughter Elise there to help me, I would not have been able to climb out.
- The damage done to my heart over time left me unable to walk up the stairs to my bedroom without assistance due to the intense fatigue and an inability to breathe.
- Many of my fellow Sarcoidosis patients suffer much worse and do not recover in the same way as me. Some of the stories are heart-wrenching. Thus, I step for them as well. It is my hope that we can someday find more effective treatments and even a cure for this debilitating illness.
- After undergoing open heart surgery on Dec 30, 2014, I began a long rehab and treatment program that continues today. Climbing stairs became part of that recovery and that led me to the idea of “Steps” to raise money for research and patient assistance.
Funding for this rare disease is in short supply, but there are several centers of excellence doing some great work on a shoestring budget. My goal is to walk up 100,000 (or more) stairs in landmark locations across the USA over the next year with the personal goal to raise $100,000 for Sarcoidosis research and provide some financial assistance for patients with this disease.
I’m hoping you will join me in my climb by considering a donation to my Steps To Getting Better to benefit the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR), as well as patients in need of funds to travel to see knowledgeable physicians who treat this horrible disease.
To support Mark’s Steps To Getting Better, Donations can be made directly to the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR) by clicking here.
In the Reason for Giving drop down menu, be sure to select:
Getting Better… (M. Landiak)
Then select your pledge amount.
Thank-you for your support. Please follow our progress by clicking on the icons below to keep up with Mark’s Steps To Getting Better!