• 61-YEAR-OLD OXYGEN-DEPENDENT CYCLIST EMBARKS ON CROSS-COUNTRY TREK, MOTIVATING SENIORS TO STAY ACTIVE
  • Does that headline catch your eye? It did ours. On June 12, 2004, sixty-one-year-old Mark Junge from Cheyenne, Wyoming saddled his bicycle and began his 3,400-mile trek from San Francisco to New York City. Mr. Junge is not your typical cyclist attempting the mid-summer trip across the grueling and often mountainous Lincoln Highway. He is a 61-year-old retired historian and photographer from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Most interesting to us however, he is also on 24-hour oxygen.
  • In the winter of 2002, blood clots developed in Mark's lungs. Because the problem was atypical, its cause was not immediately recognized. As a result, the clots caused permanent damage that reduced his lung capacity, requiring him to use oxygen for sleeping, walking and exercising.
  • Having dedicated his professional career to preserving history, Mr. Junge is now planning to make his own, by being the first man requiring liquid oxygen to cross the United States by bicycle. His wife, Ardath, will play a key role during this three-month odyssey by driving Mark's support vehicle and providing logistical assistance.
  • He will be using a HELIOS liquid oxygen system as his constant companion. This portable system is only 10 inches tall, weighing 3.6 pounds when filled and can last up to 10 hours, making this trip possible.
  • Mark says that the trip is not only a personal goal, but also an opportunity to demonstrate to other oxygen-dependent individuals that they, too, can stay active and independent. From San Francisco, Mark will travel the historic Lincoln Highway, which runs through America's heartland. The Lincoln Highway, conceived in 1913, was the first trans-continental road built specifically for the automobile. He began his ride at the western-most point of the highway, San Francisco's Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park. He will culminate his journey at the route's eastern terminus, Times Square in New York City. Along the way, Mark hopes to meet with federal legislators in their home districts in an effort to educate them on the issues preventing many oxygen-dependent Americans from getting the small, lightweight portable delivery systems that allow them to maintain active lifestyles.
  • Medicare and most insurance plans cover portable liquid oxygen systems when medically indicated and prescribed by a physician. However, government payment for lightweight liquid oxygen systems is no more than that for 'drag-behind-you' E-cylinders. The challenge is educating more physicians, patients and legislators to demand lightweight systems. We hope that Mark's trip across the country will help raise awareness of the need for small portable oxygen systems so that more oxygen dependent patients can benefit from them. To follow his progress go to http://www.heliosfreedomtour.com. We'll keep you posted on his progress, and join all of you in wishing him a successful journey. You have our greatest admiration, Mark!

  • Do you have a question about respiratory disease that has been bothering you? If so, feel free to write and ask us, either through our web site or by mail. We answer all of your letters.