AV200 raises hope for the future of vaccine research

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | May 26, 2017

Contact

Melva Robertson
404-727-5692
melva.robertson@emory.edu

"Emory has been a lifesaver for me and this is just my small way of giving back," explains Joshua Saunders. "The Vaccine Center is doing great work... but one of the most important things that it offers is hope for a cure."

On May 20th, Action Cycling Atlanta hosted its 15th annual AIDS Vaccine 200 (AV200) to benefit AIDS vaccine research at the Emory Vaccine Center. More than 200 cyclists gathered at the Emory School of Medicine to begin the 200-mile ride to the Rock Eagle 4-H center in Eatonton and back to Emory.

Among the riders was Joshua Saunders who, only six months prior, underwent quadruple bypass surgery at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital. After receiving several referrals for various tests, Saunders was ultimately led to Emory cardiac surgeon Jeffrey Miller, MD, who immediately scheduled quadruple bypass surgery for the next day.

"I was surprised because other than a little shortness of breath, I felt fine," explains Saunders.

After a successful surgery, Dr. Miller assured Saunders that with the proper recovery and exercise regimen, he should be fine to continue his AV200 training.

"Even though Mr. Saunders was dealing with several health challenges in addition to his strong family history of heart disease, he was able to bounce back very quickly because of his great attitude and motivation," says Miller. 

Prior to his diagnosis, Saunders had already started training and fundraising for the race that has raised more than $2.4 million for AIDS vaccine research.  Although inclement weather hindered the full 200-mile journey, Saunders, along with his teammates and the other cyclists, victoriously completed over 100 miles. 

Despite weather conditions, cyclists still felt that the race was an overall successful and worthwhile cause.

"Emory has been a lifesaver for me and this is just my small way of giving back," explains Saunders. "The Vaccine Center is doing great work... but one of the most important things that it offers is hope for a cure."