WASHINGTON, July 31 With the world's attention focused on the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing this month, Sharing Miracles -- a 30-minute Sunday morning public affairs television program that tells the compelling and inspirational stories of real patients -- will feature two of America's greatest Olympic athletes, Gold Medalists Mark Spitz and Bruce Jenner. Sharing Miracles now shows on 158 television stations across the United States.
Mark Spitz is considered one of the most dominant Olympic athletes ever, collecting a total of 11 medals, including a record-breaking seven Gold Medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics -- a record that U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps will be eyeing at this year's Beijing games. Spitz held 17 national records for his age group by the time he was 10 years old and retired from competitive swimming after his sweep at the Munich games.
Unfortunately, Spitz did something else at a young age: he discovered, at 38, that he had high cholesterol and was at risk of developing heart disease. Now, Spitz is an advocate for cholesterol testing and heart health, spurred by his personal battle.
Speaking on the newest episode of Sharing Miracles, Spitz says, "I realized that I have to get a message out to people: regardless of the way you think you are, you may be walking around with this silent killer. I was surprised that this could happen to me -- after all, I've worked out my whole life. But this can happen to anyone."
Another Olympic Hall of Famer, Bruce Jenner, captivated the world when he broke the world record by scoring 8,634 points in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, earning him the title of "World's Greatest Athlete." Since retiring from athletics, he has been a sports commentator, actor, and author; his most recent release is an inspirational book entitled Finding the Champion Within.
However, these achievements were not attained without a struggle. As a child, he suffered from attention deficit disorder and dyslexia, and his struggle to learn left him depressed. As he explains in this month's episode, "I failed second grade, and I suffered from terribly low self-esteem. I thought all of the kids were smarter than I was. My biggest fear was to go to school as a young kid because I was afraid that the teacher was going to ask me to read in front of the class."
Today, motivated by his own battles with ADD and dyslexia, he serves as an advisory board member for several foundations for the learning and mentally disabled, including the National Dyslexia Research Foundation and the Special Olympics.
Previous episodes of Sharing Miracles have featured Olympic Gold Medal-winning diver Greg Louganis, who is HIV positive; Emmy Award-winning actor Joey Pantoliano, who suffers from clinical depression; Leave It To Beaver star Jerry Mathers, who is affected by diabetes; pop icon and Broadway star Deborah Gibson, who has suffered from devastating anxiety attacks; and North Carolina State University women's basketball coach Kay Yow, a breast cancer survivor. Future programs will highlight Academy Award winner and patient advocate Marcia Gay Harden; NFL Hall of Famer, Super Bowl MVP and prostate cancer survivor Len Dawson; former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Star running back and asthma patient Jerome Bettis, now a commentator for the NFL Network and an NBC studio analyst for Football Night in America; and Emmy Award-winning television talk show host Montel Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Sharing Miracles is produced by PhRMA's Communications & Public Affairs Department and hosted by PhRMA President and CEO Billy Tauzin, a cancer survivor.
The new episode debuts August 3. Sharing Miracles airs on Sunday mornings - in 49 television markets, reaching nearly 45 million households - on the following network-affiliated stati