I was diagnosed with ALS at age 33, less than a year after completing 5 triathlons, including a 70.3. A month after confirmation of my diagnosis August 2014, I did a super sprint triathlon and ended up being featured in Endurance magazine. In November 2015, I completed the City of Oaks marathon in Raleigh, NC on my recumbent trike.
Doing a marathon after a year of living with ALS rocked my perspective. The average life expectancy for a person with ALS is 2-5 years, but everyone is different. Clearly, I was lucky/blessed to have slow progression — even though I had to use a walker, my muscles were strong enough to power my trike. So I started thinking…
In 2016, I pledged to do 12 races — marathons, half marathons and triathlons — and dedicate each one to someone with ALS who has been an inspiration to me. Read about each race and honoree on my blog.
For my 12th race, I will return to the City of Oaks marathon on November 6, 2016 with 30 members from Team Drea. And then all that’s left is to ask…
11/1/15: ABC11 Eyewitnesses News at the City of Oaks Marathon: report/video
09/11/15: WUSA9 coverage of the Ice Bucket Challenge: video
03/25/15: Runners World/Zelle article
02/18/15: She is Noble nomination: interview/article
01/02/15: Endurance magazine article
ABOUT THE TEAM DREA FOUNDATION
Andrea Lytle Peet created Team Drea in 2015 when friends kept remarking that her story had inspired them to take on a big challenge – an Ironman, a half marathon, a triathlon. She encouraged friends and family to take on a race that represented a challenge to them and use it as an opportunity to raise money for ALS research. In 2 years, Team Drea grew to 150+ athletes in 22 states, Canada, and the U.K, and raised more than $165,000 for ALS research.In October 2016, Andrea and her husband David incorporated the Team Drea Foundation as a 501(c)(3) in order to leverage the momentum they have built thus far, and to maximize the flexibility of their support to invest in the most promising ALS research on the horizon.
The Team Drea Foundation funds and supports bold, innovative research to find a cure or effective treatment for ALS. We see raising awareness about this devastating disease as an opportunity to inspire people to live bravely, love joyfully, and appreciate the gift of life.
Research We Support:
At this time, Team Drea supports two organizations that are passionately dedicated to research. They keep their overhead costs low and innovation high. ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI)
ALS TDI is the world’s first and largest nonprofit biotech firm. The organization focuses on pre-clinical trial research and the development of drug therapies for ALS. When they find something promising (such as AT-1501), they sell or partner with pharmaceutical companies and other organizations to further develop the drugs and get them to market.
Andrea is participating in their Precision Medicine Program, which is using her blood and skin tissue to look for biomarkers and create a stem cell line to study the mechanisms of the disease and screen potential treatments from already approved medical compounds.
Andrea is a national ambassador for ALS TDI and received the Stephen Heywood Patient Today Award in 2016. Blazeman Foundation
In Andrea’s words:
“I believe a higher power intertwined Jon’s life and mine. Jon and I were diagnosed at the same age (33). After his incredible accomplishment in Kona, the World Triathlon Corporation made Jon’s bib number – #179 – honorific, meaning that athletes raising money for charity (often ALS) can petition for it, otherwise #179 is retired for that race for that year.
Here’s the thing…179 has been my lucky number for almost 20 years. I know it is an odd choice, but in middle school, that was my French horn’s model number and my score when I came in second in an all-state competition. That was good enough for me and since then, I have seen it everywhere: on license plates, mile markers, random signs, etc., like a friendly little wave from the universe.
Beyond that crazy ‘coincidence,’ Jon still inspires me every day to work hard and to live life while I have it. Since Jon’s passing in 2007, his parents have run the foundation in his honor, raising $2 million for research to find a cure for ALS.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
David Peet, Chair (Raleigh, NC)
David is Andrea’s husband, caregiver, cheerleader, and biggest champion. When he is not scheming with Andrea about a new project or doing his best to keep up with her while she is in the trike, he is working as an attorney from their home in North Carolina. He is proud to serve as a national ambassador for ALS TDI and as a resource for caregivers and people with ALS in need.
Angela McMillen Ayres, Vice Chair (Arlington, VA)
Angela lost a daughter, Lisa McMillen, to ALS in 2015, just two days after Lisa and her twin sister’s 32nd birthday. Prior to resigning to care for Lisa full-time, Angela was Executive Director of the American Association of Political Consultants in DC. Before that, she raised her 4 kids in Akron, OH and was involved in state/local politics there. Angela intends to carry on the work to defeat ALS in Lisa’s honor.
Ashley Griffith Kollme, Secretary (Chevy Chase, MD)
Doug Kollme, Treasurer (Chevy Chase, MD)
Ashley Kollme is an education consultant with a background in nonprofit fundraising and higher education. She was instrumental in developing the Latino Student Fund’s first college preparation program, LISTO. Ashley is the former Development Director for Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care. Ashley currently serves on the boards of the Girls Gotta Run Foundation and Perry Street Prep Charter School. She attended Davidson College with Andrea and Dave, where they were teammates on the club crew team. She is a speed demon, often winning 5k events she enters. This year, she has set her sights on triathlon.
Doug is the Chief Financial Officer at InfoZen, a specialized software development and IT company. He has nearly 15 years of experience as a CFO, principally in the government contracting sector. He has served as a mentor and supporter of the Latino Student Fund’s LISTO program. When he is not chasing he and Ashley’s three kids around, he enjoys getting out for a run himself.
Jason Biggs (Raleigh, NC)
Jason Biggs is co-owner of FS Series, a Triangle-based triathlon and running race company that has embraced the Team Drea Foundation as a charity partner. Jason holds degrees in Sports Management and Technology Education from NC State University. When he isn’t on the megaphone or working behind the scenes at a race, Jason competes in running events, NC Cyclocross, and is a 3-time Ironman.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (aka ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a progressive neurological disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. When motor neurons that connect nerves and muscles die, people lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement. Without stimulation, muscles become weak and atrophy. Most people with ALS become totally paralyzed as they lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow, and breathe.
Every 90 minutes, someone with ALS dies and another person is diagnosed.
The average age of diagnosis is 55; however, cases of ALS also appear in people in their 20s and 30s.
Military veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS as the general population. Athletes also seem to be more susceptible. No one is sure why.
The average life expectancy of a person with ALS is 2-5 years. 20% live 5 years or more; 10% percent live more than 10 years.
The only approved drug for ALS (riluzole), only extends life expectancy by 2-3 months.