4th Annual Charity Cycling Event to Help Children with Asthma  
Ljubljana, 22 January 2009 – Today Slovenian ultra-marathon cyclist Marko Baloh and the Asthma & Sport Association, together with their partners in the project, BTC d.d. and Lek Pharmaceutical Company, announced the 4th annual charity cycling event to help children with asthma. The ten-hour cycling event on indoor bicycles will take place on Saturday, 24 January 2009, from 9:00 to 19:00 at the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre as part of the Tourism and Leisure Show. Marko Baloh will be joined by some of Slovenia’s top athletes, including Mitja Petkovšek, Mojca Rode, and Gorazd Penko with the women’s cycling team.

The Asthma & Sport Association is highlighting the importance of a healthy lifestyle and physical exercise to improve the quality of life of people with asthma. The aim of the annual charity cycling event is to enhance the public’s understanding of the most common chronic, non-contagious disease among children and young people, and to show how people affected with asthma can actively improve their lives. “Medication is of key importance in effectively combating asthma; however, a healthy lifestyle makes an additional significant contribution to controlling the disease. Correct breathing techniques, repose, and controlling fear and anxiety are extremely important in periods when asthma worsens. An active approach to managing asthma results in longer periods without symptoms or dramatic worsenings of the disease,” explains Uroš Reisman of the Asthma & Sport Association. He adds that increasing air pollution and the presence of chemicals in the living environment are also causing a rapid growth of the number of people suffering from asthma.

The annual charity cycling event will see the ultra-marathon cyclist Marko Baloh, who also suffers from asthma, cycle 10 hours non-stop. In the course of these 10 hours, he will be joined by some of Slovenia’s top athletes. “Anyone who wants to do something enjoyable and beneficial, and at the same time mix healthy exercise and charity, can in fact take part,” says Marko Baloh. Every participant will contribute 10 euros for one hour of cycling on an indoor bicycle, and the money raised throughout the day will go to children with asthma, for whom the Asthma & Sport Association will organize free swimming. BTC d.d. and LEK Pharmaceutical Company, member of Sandoz Group, will donate additional funds.

“BTC d.d., which first supported Marko Baloh’s idea for a charity cycling event four years ago and has been the main sponsor as well as host of the event in the Sports Centre Millennium for the past three years, will once again join the charity event with the cyclist Marko Baloh. And as in the past, BTC will donate 500 euros to the Asthma & Sport Association again this year to organize holidays for children with asthma. In doing so, it will once again prove the old saying “a healthy mind makes a healthy body” and show that many difficulties and obstacles in life can be overcome with physical exercise and an active lifestyle, as has been proven by Marko Baloh with his asthma. “The cycling event will be attended by athletes sponsored by BTC, among them gymnasts Mitja Petkovšek and Aljaž Pegan, rhythmic gymnast Mojca Rode and judoist Sašo Jereb, as well as the entire Polet women’s cycling team under the guidance of Gorazd Penko,” said Maja Oven, Director of Market Communications and Public Relations at BTC.

The Lek cycling team, which cycled 850 kilometres as part of the Lek marathon Za boljši dih (Breathe Easier) across Slovenia with Marko Baloh last summer, will also participate in the event. The marathon was part of the activities organized on the occasion of World Asthma Day, and cyclists were accompanied by a mobile team from the Asthma & Sport Association, which organized “Schools of Asthma” in towns across Slovenia. “According to research conducted in 2000, an increasing number of people are suffering from asthma, including at least 14 per cent of children and young people. The approach of the Asthma & Sport Association, which highlights physical exercise as one of the key factors in addition to medication in effective treatment, is very positive. This is the reason we at Lek are convinced that by collaborating with the Asthma & Sport Association we significantly contribute to raising the awareness of the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle for patients with asthma. We have a long history of collaboration with the Association and it has already brought results through the new programme for raising awareness regarding life with asthma – last year we participated in World Asthma Day and jointly created the Lek Cycling Marathon Za boljši dih (Breathe Easier), which will also be held this year in May, and we also organize one-month free swimming for children with asthma,” explains Katarina Klemenc Dinjaški, Director of Corporate Communications at Lek. She adds that Sandoz uses their wealth of experience to make technologically more demanding products for patients with asthma to significantly improve the quality of their life, such as inhalers for patients with asthma.

For further information contact:

BTC d.d., Maja Oven, Director of Market Communications and Public Relations,

e-mail: maja.oven@btc.si, tel. 01 585 13 15.