Men to bike 500 miles to help heart transplant patient

Golf buddies Jim Reedholm and Ken Hantelmann

Memphis, Tenn., May 13, 2015--In July, Jim Reedholm and Ken Hantelmann, both of Georgetown, Texas, will ride in the RAGBRAI XLIII, a 7-day bike ride and longstanding Iowan tradition. Riders from all 50 states and other countries make their way to Iowa to ride with other bike enthusiasts across the state.

This year’s event starts in Sioux City and ends in Davenport, covering nearly 500 miles.

The men will be riding in honor of Reedholm’s friend and former high school classmate, Jim Woerner, of Germantown, Tenn.

In the mid-90s, Woerner, 49, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the subsequent radiation and chemotherapy damaged his heart. Despite enduring several heart surgeries, procedures and medications, he is now suffering from severe heart failure. Doctors say a heart transplant is essential to his survival. A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) was recently implanted to act as a mechanical heart while he awaits his transplant.

The National Foundation for Transplants (NFT), a Memphis-based nonprofit, is dedicated to helping transplant patients like Woerner raise the funds they need to afford their lifesaving transplants and treatments.

“My heart goes out to Jim,” said Claire Prince, NFT fundraising consultant. “He’s facing such a tremendous battle, not only with the surgery and recovery, but with the mounting expenses related to his transplant. It’s wonderful to see his friends and loved ones rallying to support him in a time like this.”

Reedholm is asking his own friends and family to support his RAGBRAI ride by donating to NFT in honor of Woerner.

"I'll be joined in the ride by golfing friend, Ken,” said Reedholm. “Like me, Ken was born in Iowa, so it is a chance to go back to the birth state, but see it at 13 MPH instead of 70 MPH on the interstate. It has been some years since I slept in a tent—part of the RAGBRAI adventure. We are both glad to help such a worthwhile cause."

When Hantelmann heard his friend was riding to help a friend, he thought that was wonderful, but when he heard a surprising connection to his own family, he knew he had to jump on board.

Like Woerner, Hantelmann’s sister, Nancy, battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma. When she received her diagnosis, she was in her teens, and the radiation and treatment led to a great deal of heart damage. Sadly, she eventually lost her life after surgery related to a stomach cancer diagnosis.

“I don’t know Jim [Woerner], but I was shocked to learn that he is facing health challenges similar to the ones Nancy had,” explained Hantelmann. “My sister never complained and was always so strong, and I’ve learned Jim is the same way. I’m more than happy to ride 500 miles to help someone in need.”

To learn more about Woerner or to make a donation to assist with his expenses, visit his personal fundraising page.

About NFT
NFT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization based in Memphis, Tenn. that has been helping transplant patients overcome financial obstacles since 1983. NFT provides fundraising expertise and advocacy to transplant patients by organizing fundraising campaigns in the patients’ own communities. In the past 30 years, NFT’s fundraising campaigns have generated nearly $70 million to assist patients. NFT annually assists more than 2,500 transplant candidates and recipients nationwide. For more information about NFT, please call 800-489-3863 or visit www.transplants.org.
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