Harriton (PA) Player Helps Combat Lyme Disease

By Chris Goldberg, PhillyLacrosse.com

Zach Fink has discovered a worthwhile way to help fight Lyme Disease, a condition that has significantly impacted his life and one be believes is a threat to many other lacrosse players.

Fink, a junior lacrosse standout at Harriton, has been dealing with Lyme Disease for two years. The disease has caused him excessive fatigue, and has affected his schoolwork and athletics.

Because his grandmother and younger brother also have endured advanced Lyme Disease, Fink has become an advocate for Lyme awareness. He says the disease is somewhat of a mystery because many victims don't know they have it and most have varying symptoms.

Fink has created a business to help educate others and also raise money funds to support research and cures to treat the epidemic of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses in the region. He and his family recently launched "Fink's Powerful Pancakes" at www.powerfulpancakes.com. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the business go to the fight against Lyme Disease.

The dry pancake mix, available online at $3.95 a package (8 ounces makes 18-24 pancakes), are made with no preservatives and mostly from organic ingredients with some whole grains. The recipe, created by Fink's mother, is a hit with Fink's friends.

Powerful Pancakes provide 16-20% of the daily recommended doses for fiber and have high levels of calcium, iron and Vitamin A. The pancake mix is licensed with the Department of Agriculture.

"My friends always raved about the pancakes and said we should sell them," said Fink, who also plays club lacrosse for Rebel Elite. "Then, once the whole Lyme Disease thing happened, I had more of a motivation to get the pancake business going."

"Not only are we hoping to make a profit and promote good nutrition, but 50 percent goes to Lyme Disease awareness."

Fink was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and Babesia during the spring of 2009 after many months of exhaustion that caused an inability to sleep, severe fatigue, breathing issues and a number of other odd symptoms. He took antibiotics and anti-malaria drugs for over 8 months before his symptoms cleared and he did not fully recover until last spring.

Both Lyme Disease and Babesia are transmitted though tick bites. Lyme is a bacterial infection which is treated with antibiotics but Babesia is a protozoan infection of the red blood cell in the malaria family which requires anti-malaria drugs.

Why is Lyme Disease a big issue for lacrosse players? Fink believes that because lacrosse players play on grass fields, walk through wooded areas to get to fields and often chase balls in wooded area where ticks collect, they are often exposed.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey are two of the top five states in the nation reporting the most Lyme Disease cases each year. The best defense against this disease is awareness of the disease and the symptoms.

These steps should be taken: include regular body checks for ticks especially in the hair, groin, underarms and back and knowing that flu symptoms from May to October and all rashes should always be suspected Lyme Disease when evaluating the cause of illness among athletes and their families.

This "awareness" is the focus of Zach Fink's mission through Powerful Pancakes.

"We want everyone to know there are athletes out there like me that are tired for no reason," said Fink, an All-Central League Honorable mention performer in 2010 and an Honors student (4.1 GPA). "I found out when I had trouble sleeping at night.

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