GREENVILLE, Maine — Lucy Johnston, 57, believes in helping her community and its residents. So the Greenville woman will be running and biking 34 miles from Greenville to Dover-Foxcroft on Wednesday, Oct. 6, to raise awareness and funds for pulmonary hypertension research.
The combination run and bike event was spurred when Johnston read “Living with Pulmonary Hypertension, 34 Years and Counting,” written by Jeannette Morrill, 57, of Greenville, one of the world’s longest survivors of the disease. Pulmonary hypertension is a condition of increased blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs, and there currently is no cure.
Morrill was a healthy athlete through high school and her goal was to become a physical education teacher, but she fell short of that goal when she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. She was told 35 years ago that she would live for only about two years.
“She had to give up those things that she loved” when she was diagnosed with the disease, Johnston said Thursday of Morrill. Johnston, on the other hand, said she was more of a couch potato, led an unhealthy lifestyle and had no focused goals as a teenager.
When her own health was compromised later in life, Johnston said she changed and become more physically fit. “It’s like we’ve swapped positions in a way,” she said of Morrill. Johnston is calling her run-bike ride “Here’s to 34 More.”
Making the most of her now-healthy lifestyle, Johnston, a senior teller at Camden National Bank in Greenville, did a similar run-bike event last year for the Greenville Fire Department. The department used the more than $1,000 raised to purchase smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers, which will be given away to local residents next month.
Johnston said she hoped to raise a similar amount for pulmonary hypertension research. “I can ride my bike and run anywhere, but if I’m going to do it, I want to do it for something. I want to make it count,” she said Thursday. It was after Johnston read Morrill’s book that she found her cause. When she approached Morrill about her idea, Morrill seized upon the opportunity to accompany Johnston by riding her motorized scooter the entire route.
That Johnston would offer to give her time to raise awareness and funds for pulmonary hypertension research moved Morrill.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” she recalled Thursday. She said she realized then that her book had made an impact on at least one person.
Johnston’s husband, CJ Johnston, will transport the bicycle while Johnston runs part of the route, she said. She plans to leave the Greenville bank at 7 a.m. and arrive at Camden National Bank in Dover-Foxcroft between 12:30 and 1 p.m. Morrill will hold a book signing from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. the same day at the bank, and light refreshments will be served. In case of rain, the run-bike event will likely be held the day after, but the book signing still will be held Oct. 6.
Pledges for the run-bike ride may be made by calling Johnston at 695-2403 or Morrill at 695-3042.