Hernan Cortez lives a life free of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. But he’s raised more than $4,000 and will pedal miles across New Jersey countryside today for psoriatic disease research in the Team NPF Cycle Inaugural Ride.
Cortez was born in Bluefield, Nicaragua. In 1975, when he was 10, his family came to the U.S. and settled in San Francisco. When he was old enough he joined the Army because he wanted to give back “for everything this country has done for me.” Cortez, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm (1991), retired from the Army as a captain.
When he left the Army, he had to decide how to make a living. He figured he’d get married someday and raise a family. How could he do that and continue to give back? “You have to look at all aspects of a job,” Cortez explained. “Not just the rewards, but is it rewarding?” He landed in the pharmaceutical industry, motivated by cutting-edge technology that helps people.
Cortez, who is now 50, has worked in this industry for 24 years, for the last 10 in dermatology sales and marketing. He’s currently an assistant director for Novartis, based in Tampa.
Cortez often interacts with people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. He meets patients in doctors’ offices and at trade shows and hears from treating physicians. “I was particularly moved by a story about a ballet dancer who’s been living with psoriatic disease since she was a little girl,” he recalled.
He started volunteering with National Psoriasis Foundation when he worked for his previous employer, Amgen. Cortez has joined groups that have participated in several Team NPF Walks. (When Novartis has a display at an NPF event, he’s often called on to say a few words before the start.)
“It’s easy to be an observer, but I wanted to take part and make a difference. That’s the way I live and the way I bring up my kids.” Cortez and his wife, Kelly, have two sons, Alex, 17 and Gabe, 14.
Long-distance cycling tips from Hernan Cortez
Cortez is a cyclist with experience in triathlons and long rides with his friends. He’s riding the 62-mile route (the “metric century”) in the Team NPF Cycle Inaugural Ride in Ringoes, New Jersey.
He generously offered us his training tips:
1) Know yourself – meaning know your cadence. Pace yourself!
“Cadence,” for those who are new to long-distance riding, is the number of revolutions per minute. Cyclists have a favorite cadence that makes them feel comfortable and minimizes muscular fatigue.
2) Know the bike you’re riding, too.
Cortez explained that people don’t always understand all the features of their “fancy bikes” – just like people who don’t understand all the features of their smartphones. He advised newcomers to get the right bike for their height (including setting the seat height and making sure the handlebars are the right length for your arms), and checking that your tires, gears and brakes are in the best possible condition.
3) Know the difference between work and play.
“Don’t push until you don’t enjoy what you’re doing,” Cortez said. “You’re making a difference, but you’re also having fun!”
Driving discovery, creating community
For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.