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October 16, 2023

Air Force Vet With Parkinson’s Shares Ironman Triathlon Journey

Filed under: Fitness,Health — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 9:24 pm

Cleveland Clinic anesthesiologist Sara Whittingham has faced many challenges in her life, from graduating the Air Force Academy to becoming a physician to training as an endurance athlete. But her latest challenge might be her most difficult yet.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2020, Whittingham began participating in a study that determined how strenuous exercise can (along with medication) help slow the development of her disease. This weekend, she completed the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii, her first triathlon since being diagnosed.

“I was pleased because I felt like a real runner again,” Sara recalls. “With medication and exercise, I wasn’t feeling as stiff. I was feeling better overall.”

Sara Whittingham

“Sara’s case is both touching and inspiring to all of us. To see her overcome the effects of her disease, and compete in an IRONMAN, is absolutely amazing,” said Dr. Walter. “She shows what people with Parkinson’s can do, when medicine and exercise work together.”

Sara Whittingham

She explained that her goal was more than just finishing the race, it was about bringing awareness to Parkinson’s and how people can continue to accomplish amazing things.

“With the support of my family, friends, colleagues and my care team, I have gone from starting to apply for disability in January 2022 to competing in an IRONMAN in October 2023,” Sara said. “There are thousands of men and women who are still working and living full lives with this disease. I hope that gives people with Parkinson’s hope to never stop dreaming big.”

You can read more about her journey here.


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