HERE IS THE ARTICLE ABOUT MY FRIEND PETER THAT APPEARED IN LAST SATURDAY'S LA DAILY NEWS.
RUNNING FOR OTHERS BRINGS FULFILLMENT
By Carol Rock
VALENCIA -- Everything's coming up roses for Peter Lyons.
The coffeehouse worker has dropped 18 pounds and the feeling that he'd never be able to run more than a half-mile. Training for the Orange County marathon in December on a team supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the man who pours java for a living has found new friends and purpose.
Most of it traces back to a little guy named John Ross Murphy, Lyons' 7-year old nephew who lives in Bossier Parish, La. Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 11 months old, he inspires his uncle to do things Lyons never imagined he could.
Thus, the rosy outlook. "65 Roses" is what some children call their disease because the words are much easier for them to pronounce.
"The roses are also a way to describe the children, because most of them are diagnosed when they're little, they're delicate and beautiful like a rose," Lyons said.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes the body to produce abnormally thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and obstructs the pancreas, causing life-threatening lung infections and preventing digestive enzymes from reaching the intestines to absorb food.
According to the national Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, CF occurs in approximately one out of every 3,900 births in America. About 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year and the median age of survival is just over 33 years.
Back home, Lyons' entire family was part of John Ross' support system, making sure he does breathing treatments twice a day and takes the right amount of enzymes, vitamins, decongestants and antacids so he can function normally.
"That boy is a bundle of energy," Lyons said. "He's a hellion, very creative and definitely one of a kind."
He added that John Ross doesn't feel sorry for himself, but has reached an age where he can ask questions about his condition. Lyons said the child was grateful that his 8-month-old brother, Grant Murphy, who does not have CF, didn't have to have saline squirted up his nose to breathe easier.
"When I left my family and moved to California, I was looking for a way to participate in helping the CF cause out here," he said. "I did the walk in Valencia the last three years, but I knew there had to be something more."
Lyons has been training with Scott Malchus, a Saugus man whose 2-year-old son, Jacob, has CF. Malchus ran the Honolulu marathon in 2003 and raised more than $11,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Lyons says having a local connection makes the universal plight of children with CF even more poignant.
"It's so interesting to get the parents' perspective," he said. "He can unload when we're running and tell me what he's been dealing with. Even though the kids are the ones that have the illness, the parents struggle every day, trying to be optimistic and keep their game faces on. There have been times that Scott tells me he's been scared for his son."
Lyons has been getting support from his employer, Starbucks, and various community groups. He launched a Web page at www.active.com/donate/TeamJohnRoss that shows a smiling youngster playing with his uncle and through which people can make pledges. Vincenzo's Pizza in Newhall is donating a percentage of sales Sept. 20 toward the cause. And Starbucks has pledged to match Lyons' donations up to $1,000.
"The experience has made me so aware of others," Lyons said. "It's so easy, especially in L.A., to focus just on yourself. I've tried, with this marathon, to put myself outside the comfort level. Every day I'm doing something for someone I don't know and may never meet, but it gives me an overwhelming sense of completeness.
"There's a saying I read somewhere that says 'Teach my untrained mind to sing the feelings of my heart,' and that helps me to go one more mile, even though it's 120 degrees outside. It carries over and affects who you are. I have a sense of being connected that I didn't have before."
Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW YOU CAN HELP
A fund-raiser for TeamJohnRoss will be held Sept. 20 Vincenzo's Pizza. 24504 Lyons Ave., Newhall. For information, visit www.active.com/donate/TeamJohnRoss.