Women's Professional Tennis Tournament Promotes Fatal Lung Disease at Mercury Insurance Open

Aug 05, 2011, 14:51 ET from Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Mercury Insurance Open's Kitty Winterhalter Lopez Recently Diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis

CARLSBAD, Calif., Aug. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kitty Winterhalter has long helped professional tennis tournaments become successful.  This year, she's asking a pro tennis tournament to help her.  Winterhalter, who has spent many years as an amateur tennis player, has worked 20 years with the San Diego event now called the Mercury Insurance Open.  The Open is being held this week in Carlsbad.  She's helping the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CPF) to raise awareness of a disease that threatens her career as well as her life – Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF).

Winterhalter, now Kitty Winterhalter Lopez, was recently diagnosed with PF, a lethal lung disease that is destroying her lungs, stealing her breath, and keeping her off the court and away from the game she loves.  PF causes uncontrollable and relentless scarring in the lungs, rendering them stiff and unable to exchange much needed blood oxygen.  There are no FDA approved treatments for the disease that claims 40,000 lives a year, the same as breast cancer.

"We miss Kitty.  Her imprint is in every corner of this event.  We want to do what we can to help her and the thousands of others who are suffering from PF," said Raquel Giscafre, Tournament Director of the Mercury Insurance Open.  "We are happy to help by educating people at the tournament and beyond about the disease."

"Even though I can't travel to the tournament this year, I'm so pleased my friends at the Mercury Insurance Open are helping me spread the word about Pulmonary Fibrosis, a disease that most people have never heard of until they get the game-changing diagnosis," Winterhalter said.

"We are so grateful to Kitty and the Mercury Insurance Open for helping increase awareness around PF.  It is a well-respected and highly-watched tournament and through it so many will learn about PF and want to get involved," said Mishka Michon, CEO of the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Without a lung transplant, Winterhalter likely has a short time to live.  Most patients die within three years of diagnosis.  She lives outside Tampa, Florida, near Seminole, a town in which its mayor received a successful lung transplant just a few years ago. Winterhalter is hopeful that she may get the same chance.  If she gets it in time, she'll be one of the small number of patients who survive the disease.  Her brother received a successful lung transplant for the same disease nine years ago.

To learn more about what you can do to help Kitty and patients like her, visit the CPF website at www.coalitionforpf.org, email at info@coalitionforpf.org or call 1-888-222-8541.

About the Mercury Insurance Open
The Mercury Insurance Open is a participating tournament in the Olympus US Open Series. The US Open Series, now in its eighth year, is a six-week summer tennis season that links 10 ATP World Tour and WTA tournaments together. The series leads into the US Open. The Mercury Insurance Open is the second women's event within the series. For additional information about the Mercury Insurance Open Presented by Tri-City Medical Center, log onto http://www.mercuryinsuranceopen.com/, join it on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SDTennis) or follow frequent updates on Twitter (http://twitter.com/MercuryInsOpen).

About Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF)
Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a lung disorder characterized by a progressive scarring – known as fibrosis -- and deterioration of the lungs, which slowly robs its victims of their ability to breathe. Approximately 128,000 Americans suffer from PF, and there is currently no known cause or cure. An estimated 48,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. PF is difficult to diagnose and an estimated two-thirds of patients die within five years of diagnosis.  Sometimes PF can be linked to a particular cause, such as certain environmental exposures, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, residual infection, or autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis. However, in many instances, no known cause can be established. When this is the case, it is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

About the CPF
The CPF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 2001 to accelerate research efforts leading to a cure for pulmonary fibrosis (PF), while educating, supporting, and advocating for the community of patients, families, and medical professionals fighting this disease. The CPF funds promising research into new approaches to treat and cure PF; provides patients and families with comprehensive education materials, resources, and hope; serves as a voice for national advocacy of PF issues; and works to improve awareness of PF in the medical community as well as the general public. The CPF's nonprofit partners include many of the most respected medical centers and healthcare organizations in the U.S. With more than 24,000 members nationwide, the CPF is the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. dedicated to advocating for those with PF. For more information please visit www.coalitionforpf.org or call (888) 222-8541.

SOURCE Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis