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Local Athletic Trainer Embarks on 250 Mile Hike To Raise Money for Progeria Research

Philadelphia (March 26, 2014) – Amy Ruhf, athletic trainer at Lower Moreland High School, is planning a very different kind of start to her summer. On June 20, Ruhf, of Fort Washington, will embark on a 250- mile hike, called Hike4Hope, to raise money for Progeria research. Ruhf hopes to raise $25,000 for the Progeria Research Foundation and two local boys with the fatal condition.

“I’ve been spending lots of nights and weekends planning this trip along the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania,” said Ruhf.  “God willing, I will hike 250 miles, one mile for every child diagnosed with Progeria, a fatal premature aging condition.”

Amy became connected with two brothers Nathan and Bennett Falcone of Erdenheim through the First Presbyterian Church of Ambler.  They are all members of the church which is dedicated to its mission work and helping others.  "We are thrilled that [she] has decided to take this step of faith to support the Progeria Foundation and to support a family in our congregation with two children affected by Progeria,” said Rev. Ryan Balsan, First Presbyterian Church of Ambler. “It is a sign of how God can awaken us to take action for the sake of our neighbors and the world. We look forward to seeing how God is going to use the Hike-4-Hope to take one more step toward a cure.”

Ruhf plans to hike a minimum of 10 miles each day beginning at the Delaware Water Gap near I-80, hiking Southwest to the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. Once she reaches Maryland, she will turn back and hike 20-40 more miles into Pennsylvania where she will reach her final destination, Caledonia State Park. In addition to donations, she is hoping to find people to join her for all or part of the hike.

Nathan and Bennett Falcone are the sixth and seventh people in the world to be diagnosed with their particular form of Progeria. At birth, children with Progeria appear healthy but within the first two years of life, they begin to show signs of premature aging. They may lose hair and body fat, their skin may look aged, and they may experience joint stiffness, hip displacement, heart disease, atherosclerosis, and growth failure. Children diagnosed with classic Progeria have an average lifespan of 13 years. Nathan and Bennett’s cases are so rare that there is no known life expectancy.

“We are continually amazed and humbled when people step forward and selflessly donate their time and energy to join our fight for Nathan and Bennett's future,” said Phyllis Falcone, mother of Nathan and Bennett.  Amy has already done a great job raising awareness for Progeria and helping to focus on finding a cure for this fatal disease.”

Ruhf will spend the next several weeks training for the hike and planning the route.  To donate, visit http://hike4hope1.blogspot.com and the fundraising page is www.crowdrise.com/Hike4Hope.     For more information, www.progeriaresearch.org.  On twitter follow Amy, @Hike4hope1 #nathanandbennett.  

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