Newswise — Dan Seftick thought his biggest challenge in life was his rare disease, dermatomyositis. When his son Greg tragically died in an avalanche while hiking in Grand Tetons National Park, he discovered there can be much bigger mountains to climb.

Seftick, author of the memoir Real Mountains, a tribute to Greg’s life, is the keynote speaker at The Myositis Association’s 2017 Annual Patient Conference on September 7 at 3pm at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. In his address, titled “Turning Tragedy into Inspiration,” he will speak about these challenges and how his son’s death gave him a new perspective on his own life and disabilities.

Greg Seftick was an experienced backcountry skier and mountaineer. He lived in Montana, because the area offered unlimited opportunities to hike and climb. As a physician, he chose emergency room medicine as a specialty, because it allowed him the freedom to schedule extended time away for his mountain adventures.

Five years ago, Greg and a friend set out to summit the 13,770-foot Grand Teton Mountain. But a week later, their bodies were found buried under more than 13 feet of snow, crushed in their sleeping bags by an avalanche. The loss of his son crushed his father as well, but Dan Seftick has transformed the experience into a life-affirming message for others who suffer from painful, debilitating disease.

Dermatomyositis is one of several rare autoimmune muscle diseases known as myositis. These diseases cause severe muscle pain and weakness, difficulty moving and standing, chronic disability, severe skin rashes, and other symptoms. There is no cure for these chronic, disabling conditions, and in some cases there is no treatment either. Raising awareness of myositis, its symptoms, and treatments is part of the mission of The Myositis Association and this Annual Patient Conference.

The Myositis Association is an international nonprofit organization committed to support and education for myositis patients and caregivers, increasing awareness of myositis throughout the community and among physicians, and funding for myositis-related research.

Journalists are invited to attend any conference activities. Dan Seftick will be available for interviews. Find more information about myositis and the conference at For more information or to set up an interview with a local patient, myositis medical experts, or TMA’s executive director, call TMA Communications Director Linda Kobert at 434-882-2189 or email [email protected].