Like all the runners who join with Team PHenomenal Hope to raise money for pulmonary hypertension, Kayla Frattini had the option of being matched with a patient suffering from the disease in a program called “Let Me Be Your Lungs.”
“Most people (with pulmonary hypertension) are on oxygen and it’s very hard to breath or walk and they could never run,” said Frattini, 29, of the South Hills. “So you run for them and you and your partner both fundraise, then you dedicate your run to that person.”
Frattini’s choice of partner was natural. Her mother was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension six years ago. Unfortunately, Frattini said, they knew that Ruth Frattini’s health was deteriorating rapidly and that she likely wouldn’t make it to May. Frattini decided to run the UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon and fundraise for Team PHenomenal Hope without a partner, and she will now be running in memory of her mother, who passed away earlier this month.
Team PHenomenal hope is a national organization that was founded here in Pittsburgh in part because there is a high concentration of people with pulmonary hypertension here, Frattini said. She explained the disease as high blood pressure in the lungs that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood through the body. The organization raises money for research and raises awareness about the disease itself, for which there is currently no cure.
Frattini ran her first-ever half-marathon in Pittsburgh in 2015 and raised money for Casey’s Clubhouse through the Run For A Reason program. The organization benefits the Miracle League of the South Hills, where Frattini volunteers as a baseball coach for children and adults with special needs. She participated in the program again in 2016, but when her mother’s illness worsened she decided to partner with Team PHenomenal Hope for 2017. Frattini still plans to run the 5K the day before the marathon, however, and is fundraising for Casey’s Clubhouse in that race.
“I’m double fundraising,” she said. “It’s a little crazy but I enjoy it.”
Frattini fundraises a number of different ways. She hosts a happy hour fundraiser at Mulligan’s Sports Bar and Grill in West Mifflin, where she gets to keep a portion of food and drink sales, and holds a 50-50 raffle and Chinese auction. She’s also sold pizzas and Yankee Candles, she said, and because there’s no vending machine where she works she sells candy for $1 apiece year-round and puts the money toward the cause.
“Then just sharing my story, especially this year,” she said. “People know I do this for a sincere reason, that it affects my life on a daily basis. This really, truly does mean something, and especially now, I don’t want anyone else’s family to go through what mine’s gone through.”