Fighting spirit vs. stroke of fate | Sponsoo

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Fighting spirit vs. stroke of fate

Hamburg, 02.02.2021

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Sponsoo and Carina Hilfenhaus start a project for more courage to face life

(Hamburg, February 2021) Carina Hilfenhaus is 35 years old and has already suffered two cardiac arrests. For five years, a pacemaker has ensured her survival. In 2017, she receives another diagnosis - she has a pseudotumor. Now she wants to take control of her life again and starts a sports challenge with the sports sponsoring platform Sponsoo and other professional partners. With this special campaign, she wants to show other people what is possible despite a serious illness and encourage them to keep fighting. For this purpose, the former tennis player has chosen a special challenge: a multi-day cycling tour in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on different terrains organized by Sponsoo. She will only find out the specific tasks shortly before the event in late summer. Until then, she will be trained by professional athletes.

A life shaped by fate
In 2011, Carina Hilfenhaus suffers her first cardiac arrest during a flight. In the fall of 2014, she collapses in the office - she has a second cardiac arrest. The cause is a so-called sick sinus syndrome. During this time, the now 35-year-old built up a company with 50 employees and started a family. In 2015, she had a pacemaker implanted. This is the only short break in her action-packed everyday life. Due to the pacemaker, she has to give up the beloved sport of tennis, lacking motivation and time for a new sport. In August 2017, she is worse again. In the hospital, the Hessian receives the diagnosis of a pseudotumor cerebri, also known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a rare neurological disease whose cause is unknown. The symptoms are the same as those of a brain tumor. The body can no longer absorb cerebrospinal fluid properly. Carina Hilfenhaus has to undergo countless lumbar punctures to lower the intracranial pressure. In 2019, her husband develops colon cancer. While his condition improves after several operations, Carina Hilfenhaus is at her lowest point at the beginning of 2020. Her doctors sound the alarm and she decides that something has to change. She travels alone to a clinic on Lake Chiemsee and allows herself time off to reflect. Carina Hilfenhaus does not want to go back to her old life. She sells her shares in the company and begins to shape her life actively, positively and self-determinedly again. She finds her new mission in life in sharing her experiences with others and giving them courage. "It was clear to me that I had neglected myself extremely. At Chiemsee, I came back into contact with sports for the first time. There were special exercises there for my neurological disease and also for the pacemaker, and when I was sitting there on the ergometer bike one day, I decided to complete a Challenge," explains Carina Hilfenhaus.

My Challenge 2021
Carina Hilfenhaus decides to test the limits of her body. These are eight minutes of slow walking to begin with, but her goal is clear: she wants to take part in a triathlon. In October 2020, she turns to the Sponsoo platform, Europe's largest marketplace for sports sponsorship, with her plan. Together with Sponsoo, the project "My Challenge 2021" is created. This special challenge consists of a multi-day round trip in and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which will take place over several stages in late summer 2021. The various stages of the "My Challenge 2021" will be contested on different bikes on different terrain. In the process, the Hessian and also her coaches will only learn about the respective challenge shortly beforehand. The project is managed by a professional team from Sponsoo. The team takes care of the accompanying coverage on social media and in the press as well as the coordination of partners and sponsor support. As an official health partner, Sponsoo brings on board the health insurance company Barmer, which has been at Carina Hilfenhaus' side for a long time. Another partner is the German Society for Cardiology. Also on board is the tourism association in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where the project will take place. And since the beginning of the year, the German Heart Foundation has also been one of the project partners. A team of experienced professional athletes support the project as trainers to prepare Carina Hilfenhaus in the best possible way. During the preparation phase, they will continuously accompany her in her everyday training and will, of course, be on site during the Challenge Week. The first supporter of the project is the ambitious triathlete Laura Chacon Biebach, who has already achieved several sporting successes herself.

Close eye on the goal
Carina Hilfenhaus starts training highly motivated and slowly improves. After her first attempts at jogging, she was confined to bed for two days because of the concussion in her head, but today she already jogs several kilometers three times a week. After only a short time, Carina Hilfenhaus has increased her performance capacity, regained her zest for life and demonstrably improved her state of health as a result of the sport and the change in lifestyle. So far, no cerebrospinal fluid has had to be drained during punctures in the hospital because the intracranial pressure showed consistently good values. But despite the many positive effects, she is not doing the Challenge just for herself, but for anyone who doesn't know what to do next after a diagnosis. Who perhaps don't dare to test their limits and who have also lost their zest for life. She wants to show people what is possible despite a serious illness with a positive attitude and create awareness, for the challenges that diseases bring. "What remains after diagnosis and treatment is uncertainty and despair. Especially as a young person, I didn't know what I was still allowed to do of what I love and how much physical exertion is even possible. I want to inspire people who have lost their orientation, their goal in life, and encourage them to keep going, to keep searching," says Carina Hilfenhaus. In addition, the nursing scientist plans to work with experts to develop a sports program for people with pacemakers and with pseudotumors.

The "My Challenge 2021" project and Carina Hilfenhaus' life story can be followed on the Instagram channel:






[Photos: Sponsoo_Hilfenhaus_202152 und Sponsoo_Hilfenhaus_202155]

Sponsoo and Carina Hilfenhaus launch the "My Challenge 2021" project.

Photos: Carina Hilfenhaus/Sponsoo



[Photo: Sponsoo_Hilfenhaus_202105]

In a short time, Carina Hilfenhaus has improved her performance, regained her joy of life and improved her health with sports and a change of life.

Photo: Carina Hilfenhaus/Sponsoo

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Sarah Guttau
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