UNH Professor Competes in
Hawaii Ironman Triathlon Oct. 16 to Raise Money for Cystic Fibrosis
Contact: Sharon Keeler
UNH Media Relations
Oct. 14, 2004
DURHAM, N.H. -- Vaughn Cooper of Dover is ready to tackle what athletes
refer to as the “holy grail” of all races – Hawaii’s
Ironman Triathlon. A 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2
mile marathon. Ironman, he says, is an extension of his lifestyle,
helping him stay fit and stress free. Now it’s become an extension
of his research.
|Vaughn Cooper and his wife Erika.
The University of New Hampshire assistant professor of microbiology
is participating in the Oct. 16 Ironman Triathlon World Championship
in Kona for a cause – to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis research.
He says it was serendipitous that he came to this. He’s participated
in Hawaii Ironman before and had qualified for this year’s
event, when he “got googled.”
A woman named Tracey Richardson from New Zealand, the mother of
two children with Cystic Fibrosis, found Cooper’s name on
the Internet when she was searching for potential participants for
her racing team. Every year, World Triathlon Corporation receives
dozens of requests for special entry into the race as “charity
Tracey found me because of my connection with the CF research community,”
Cooper says. “I’m an evolutionary biologist, and I’m
interested in how bacteria transform from non-pathogens to cause
disease. One bacteria I study is Burkholderia cepacia, an opportunistic
soil microbe that colonizes the lungs of Cystic Fibrosis patients.”
Cooper will be riding with Richardson, Lisa Bentley of Canada, and
Alison Caiafa of Australia. Bentley, who was diagnosed with CF in
her early 20s, has competed in 20 Ironman Triathlons and has won
6 international Ironman titles. Caiafa is a dietician at the CF
clinic in Melbourne.
A website, www.cure4cf.com
has been launched that shares both Richardson’s and Bentley’s
story and provides an opportunity to learn more about CF and support
their cause with a donation to Cystic Fibrosis research. NBC will
highlight the team’s Ironman effort in their coverage of the
2004 Ironman Triathlon World Championship, scheduled to air Nov.