For Immediate Release
Contact Heather Lea
It Isn’t Everyone Who Can Bike 4000km With A
Tasmania , Australia, December 10, 2006
When Walter Van Praag was diagnosed at the age of ten with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a
hereditary disease that progressively disables the whole body causing early death, advice
from medical professionals were of little interest to him.
With curious spirit and a taste for the extraordinary, Walter began a life devoid of self-
pity and flourishing with adventurous pursuits.
Somewhere between camping in Sinai war-zones, traveling with a fake blind-guide dog
named Shady, living one month in a cave on the island of Crete and accidentally scaling a
jail wall in Northern Greece, Walter schemed his next, more legal adventure, the Great
Cystic Orient Fibrosis Express, or COFE.
The Great COFE is a long distance bike ride set to start on July 28 th, 2007 at the base of
the Eiffel Tower and ending some 3935 kms (2445 miles) later in Istanbul at the Pera
Palas Hotel. The ride itself will take approximately 70 days, with a daily riding average
of 63km (39miles). Stops along the way will include Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade.
“Be cause I think I can cough 4000 kilometers on my bicycle,“ states Walter, “I want to
encourage other people with CF to get out and cough, too!”
The average survival rate for a person with CF is 36.8 years. Walter, at 41 years of age, is
already an anomaly and no doubt, an inspiration to other CF sufferers.
“OK, so I cough a lot and take a bunch of pills, but no migraines, no fits, no dementia…”
With Walter’s lung capacity at less than 40% it is like breathing through a straw, or
taking just half a breath at a time. Imagine yourself cycling just 4 kilometers like that.
Walter hopes that with a little luck, the Great COFE will help spread the news that living
with CF doesn’t mean an incapacitated life and can even have some good points. “For
instance,” he says, “I can eat MacDonald's in between meals, order deep fried food and
add extra salt on doctors orders. Cholesterol is rarely detectable with CF.”
Although the disease keeps him from working full time, Walter is highly encouraged by
his doctors to participate in the activities he loves, like sea kayaking, walking in the bush,
backpacking, and taking photos.
Walter hopes for 50% of all donations resulting from the Great COFE to go to CF funds
nominated by the major sponsor of each country.
For more information on the Great COFE and how you can help, visit
CONTACTING THE GREAT COFE FOR CF
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