Aroostook County –  A unique first-time fundraiser to benefit Aroostook County dialysis patients will have community  members literally “pedaling” for funds to support the only-of-its-kind, life-sustaining service in northern Maine for area residents with kidney failure.

Getting ready to put “Power to the Pedal” event coordinators (left to right) Pam Frank, manager of County Dialysis; Brian Morrison, athletic trainer at County Physical Therapy; Jolene Wallace, production coordinator for Townsquare Media; and Craig Cormier, community advancement specialist for TAMC come together to plan the unique “race in place” to support the purchase of new equipment for northern Maine’s only dialysis unit.

“Power to the Pedal: a race in place for County Dialysis” is a 12-hour event that is set for Friday, May 29, at the County Physical Therapy location in Presque Isle – with CPT sites County-wide joining in the fun.  Although still several weeks away, event organizers are putting out a call to the community to recruit interested residents, businesses, and community groups to help keep the pedals of 15 stationary bikes moving and to raise upwards of $30,000.

“This is an excellent and fun way to give back to a great cause while participating in an activity that encourages and promotes good health and physical activity,” said Brian Morrison, athletic trainer at County Physical Therapy and one of the event organizers.  “We are inviting people to support the event by pledging money, spending time on one to the bikes pedaling to support dialysis care in The County, and bringing others on board to support their efforts and the project as a whole.”

The “Power to the Pedal: a race in place for County Dialysis” will take place between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on the last Friday of May.  Fifteen stationary workout bicycles will be out in front of the CPT location on North Street in Presque Isle (where the County Dialysis Center is also located at the North Street Healthcare facility) for individuals to pedal in shifts through the 12-hour event.  In addition, a stationary bicycle will be available during the regular business day at CPT locations in Caribou, Houlton, Fort Kent and Madawaska so that area residents and supporters in those communities wanting to take part can help put “Power to the Pedal” for patients of County Dialysis that travel from their communities to the County Dialysis Center on a regular basis.

“If our service were not available here in The County, our patients would have to travel to Lincoln or Bangor to receive treatment at the next closest facilities to us.  On average, patients need the life-sustaining treatment we offer three times a week and are receiving that treatment for a total of fifteen hours a week,” said Pam Frank, manager of the County Dialysis Center.  “Many have told us that they simply would choose not to make that trip and would either be forced to leave their family and support network to move to the Bangor area or elsewhere for treatment, or even worse, simply choose not to be treated, which would result in tragic circumstances.”

The County Dialysis Center treats approximately 45 patients, three times each week.

In 2014, patients received 5,789 treatments at the center, which has been in constant operation for nearly two decades.

“The current treatment center has become outdated, with no substantial renovations since its opening in 1997.  It currently serves more patients than was originally envisioned and space within the facility is limited,” said Frank.  “More critical than space, a reverse osmosis system for purifying water for treatment, 13 hemodialysis machines, and 10 treatment chairs are all reaching the end of their useful life.”

Replacing the reverse osmosis filtration machine and supporting plumbing and electrical equipment will cost nearly $435,000.  To replace aging treatment chairs and hemodialysis machines will cost nearly $275,000.

“Through ‘Power to the Pedal: a race in place for County Dialysis,’ we are hoping to raise funds to support the purchase of two hemodialysis machines that provide life-sustaining treatment for patients.  Each of the respective units cost $15,000,” said Craig Cormier, event coordinator.  “These machines are vital in ongoing care of our patients and the effort to create a new County Dialysis Center in the North Street Healthcare facility adjacent to the existing and cramped space that houses the units that have outlived their useful life.”

To Participate in “Power to the Pedal: a race in place for County Dialysis” simply logon to where community members can register as an individual or create/join a team.  In order to be as accessible as possible, individuals do not have to schedule a biking time to participate in the fund raiser.

County Dialysis and TAMC officials are currently working on the architectural renderings and floorplan for the new County Dialysis Center based on the input and feedback of center staff and patients.  The new facility will be located inside the unoccupied section of the former Smythe’s IGA building.  More than half of that facility was developed by TAMC several years ago to house North Street Healthcare, which is comprised of Family Practice and Internal Medicine, Aroostook Pediatrics, a walk-in care clinic, laboratory draw station, and more recently occupational health and wellness.