Racing for a Reason: Peter McConnell’s Story

Consistency counts. In training and fundraising for Team CHM, Peter McConnell found that consistency was the key to his success. Peter and his family ran a series of racing in Oklahoma in early 2017 culminating with the Oklahoma City Marathon, Relay and 5K on April 30th raising $1,650 to save sight and fund a cure for choroideremia.

Peter breaks down his success and how racing for Team CHM created hope and a sense of purpose and community:

1. How did it feel to achieve your race goal? What was it like to cross that finish line?

Peter McConnell Oklahoma City Marathon“It was awesome to see so many people out there to help me raise the funds and pass my goal! Crossing the finish line was one of the more humbling experiences I have had. To look over see my wife and kiddos there cheering me on and to be running across the line with what I would consider my brothers was awe-inspiring and made me very grateful for all in my life.”

2. How did you have success fundraising?

“Fundraising was a lot easier then I realized, thanks to social media and word of mouth. The key was to be consistent in sharing my message and to make ways available for all audiences and there were tons of people willing to give. Many more people than I knew had some kind of connection to eye-related issues in their own families so seeing Team CHM and the foundation being so active gave them hope and a way they could help!”

3. Were there any important lessons you took away from training for the race?

“Training requires consistency, awareness of your body’s limitation, and time. Time was a big part of it and my wife and kiddos were amazing with allowing me the time to do so and themselves being involved. Training also reminded me with my body it was okay to admit when there were days I needed to rest and be smart about things and I could relate that to how I function with CHM, knowing my limitations and being okay with what I can and can’t do and asking for help when I needed it!”

4. What surprised you most about racing for a cause?

“Racing for a cause really gave me a purpose. I have always wanted to find ways to connect to a cause of any sort, but finding Team CHM and a passionate way to give back to others and my own family (my brother, first cousin, and second cousin who is 16 all have CHM as well). This is a cause I will be a part of and find a way to be connected to the rest of my life. Knowing so many others care about this cause was very humbling and it made me very great for what I have in my life.”

5. What’s next? Will you keep running?

McConnell's Run for a Reason“Oh yes, we plan on running for lots of reasons and races. The running brought out a competitive nature I forgot I had so that was fun to reconnect with. I believe running helps the slowing of the loss of eyesight, I truly believe the better my health is the more I can slow down the progression of CHM and keep some vision longer. My wife Emily and my kids enjoyed being involved, spending race days together and wearing the shirts and Team CHM tattoos. I would love to connect with other Team CHMers to run a race together, maybe even getting some of you guys to OKC to run a relay here next year.”

6. What would you say to someone who is considering joining Team CHM?

“Totally do it! It’s so worth it and has helped to connect us with so many others who have similar stories and concerns. To know others out there are so passionate about the same cause, because they have it, or known someone who does is a universal, family feeling, even if we live thousands of miles away. I have connected with many involved with the CRF and Team CHM and my own experience in the clinical trial has truly opened my eyes and heart to the amazing people working hard to fight and stop this disease.

It is so worth being a part of and so rewarding in so many ways and it brings hope! It is very simple, very healthy, and very easy to do and brings so many amazing things to people like me who for a long time had no hope!”

Dennis Sims’ Reason to Run

My son Brett is 35 and has choroideremia (CHM). It’s hard to explain how difficult that was for our family to hear that diagnosis when he was 5 or 6. As a parent, I just tried to keep things as normal as I could for Brett. With Brett being part of the first Gene Therapy trials, we have had a chance to spend some real quality time together and we have met so many amazing people — people that are part of the trials, people with CHM and their families, and Team CHMers.

I am not a very outgoing person, but being part of this amazing CHM family has been a bit of a blessing, and helped me be a little more comfortable with people. That being said, it goes without saying that I wish Brett’s eyes were normal. With all the good news in treatments and research, and brave men like Brett, we will end this disease.

When Brett began running and did a fundraiser with Team CHM by running a half marathon in Philadelphia, I thought maybe I could do something like that too. Sports has always been a big part of my life, and being part of something like Team CHM and raising money for this unfortunate disease has been inspiring, fun, and important for many reasons. Getting close to retirement, I wanted to try to get in better shape. It seemed like a good fit and something I could do to help just a little. Brett has been a huge for inspiration for me.  We must stop this disease for our young CHMers. 

Dennis and Brett SimsBeing able to finish and cross the finish line will feel incredible. It will be an accomplishment I will be extremely proud of. I never thought I would be able to run again due to age and knee issues. To be able to run 13.1 miles seemed impossible a year ago, so to finish may just bring tears to my eyes. To be able to run this with my son and other Team CHMers, and to be part of Team CHM is truly an honor.

Cheer on Dennis and Brett and support the Sims as they race for a reason, to find a cure for CHM:

Interested in racing for a reason like the Sims? Learn more by visiting our website or contact Jen for more information.