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Mercury Insurance Open For Pulmonary Fibrosis

Kitty Winterhalter Lopez was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. Now the tournament she has helped for 20 years is helping her.

Published August 07, 2011 12:00

Mercury Insurance Open For Pulmonary Fibrosis
Kitty Winterhalter Lopez

CARLSBAD, CA, USA - 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, held this year 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 Giscafré, 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 whose mayor received a successful lung transplant just a few years ago. Winterhalter is hopeful she may get the same chance. If she gets it in time, she will 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 info@coalitionforpf.org or call 1-888-222-8541.

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