Jen Runs to Be Part of Something Powerful

Written by Amanda Sabino

Jen Dorval admits her running background is not the most extensive. But for Jen, running with Respiratory Health Association’s Lung Power Team in the Chicago Marathon is about more than just the race. It’s to honor her sister, Dee, who passed away four years ago due to chronic asthma.

two young sisters sit next to each other

Dee (left) and Jen

“Her goal was to run a 5k,” Jen says. “That was so sad to me because all she wanted was to run three miles…that is what kick-started me into running. If I can run a marathon for her, I’m going to do it.”

Growing up in Massachusetts, the fun-loving and outgoing sisters had many similarities – including living with asthma. Jen’s case was mild, but Dee’s caused her to miss school and visit the hospital frequently. That didn’t stop her from making an impression on everyone. She was particularly talented in the sciences, and when Jen encountered her older sister’s teachers years later, they all had a clear memory of her.

“She was in your face and did not care,” Jen says while laughing. “She had no filter whatsoever. If she were thinking it, it would come right out of her mouth!”

The sisters were both skilled swimmers, but Dee’s asthma eventually prevented her from continuing with the sport. She was fortunate the hospital was close to both home and school, which allowed her to quickly get care during frequent asthma episodes. The family still hoped that newer procedures would allow Dee to manage her asthma at home more often.

Dee and Jen with their mom

As this became more difficult, and the list of the activities she could no longer participate in grew longer, she considered a bronchial thermoplasty – an asthma treatment that heats and reduces the amount of smooth muscle in your airway wall. As a result, the immune system no longer tells the throat to constrict when triggered, making it easier to breathe. Unfortunately, due to her health, Dee was not a candidate for the procedure.

High-spirited and persistent despite this setback, Dee shifted her goals to new destinations. During Jen’s senior year in high school, Dee moved to sunny Florida. She felt that the milder climate would make it easier to manage her asthma triggers. Not only did her grandparents live there, but she met her fiancé and had her daughter Olivia, who she called Liv. Dee’s pregnancy was high-risk, and during the birth Liv suffered a stroke –which resulted in cerebral palsy that affected the left side of her body.

“Dee was a tireless advocate for Liv and made sure she got all of the therapies she needed,” Jen remembers. “She would have that girl in therapy all day to make sure she got the best care.”

As Dee settled into Florida life with her fiancé and daughter, her breathing struggles continued. Her oxygen levels were frequently low. Any time her levels were close to average, she would jokingly tell her sister how well she could breathe. Though they kept their conversations lighthearted, it illuminated a constant that had followed Dee throughout her life – she was not getting the oxygen needed to live comfortably.

On December 23, 2016, Dee woke up in the middle of the night struggling to breathe. Knowing she was in the middle of an asthma episode, her fiancé called the ambulance.

Jen and Liv

The resulting brain damage was too much for her to overcome, and she passed on Christmas Eve. Her family returned to Massachusetts – her final resting place – for a celebration of life. Loved ones drove through a giant snowstorm to attend the funeral – and Jen reflects a mischievous Dee would have enjoyed putting them through one last challenge.

“So many people like me, and they all drove through the snow for this?” she imagines Dee saying cheerfully.

Dee’s memory lives on in her daughter and family members like Jen, who carry her spirit and energy. Olivia also lives with asthma, and together with Jen, they run for a better future—one where even those living with the most severe cases of asthma can receive the care necessary to improve quality of life. To help support research, education and advocacy around asthma and other lung diseases, contribute to Jen’s Lung Power Team campaign.

Hustle Chicago Climbers Reach New Heights for Lung Health

Several thousand people climbed to the top of an iconic Chicago skyscraper when Respiratory Health Association hosted its 23rd Hustle Chicago® stair climb on Sunday, February 23. Climbers took the stairwells up 875 N. Michigan Ave. to raise awareness and funds for local lung health and clean air programs.

man climbs stairs

“Since the event began in 1998, more than 66,000 climbers have helped raise $17 million for Respiratory Health Association,” said Joel Africk, President & CEO. “These funds support our mission to prevent lung disease, promote clean air and help people live better through education, research and policy change.”

Hustle Chicago® climbers make either a Full Climb of 1,632 steps and 94 floors or a Half Climb of 816 steps and 52 floors. The fastest male and overall climber was Jesse Berg from Chicago who finished in 10:19. The fastest female was Tricia Hess from Crystal Lake, IL who reached the top in 12:16. The 2020 event includes climbers from 26 states ranging in age from 5 to 81 years old. Three of this year’s climbers are lung transplant recipients. The average climb time for the Full Climb of 94 floors is 26 minutes.

“Every year we celebrate the incredible climbers not only for their accomplishment making it to the top, but also the impact they have on those living with lung disease,” commented Africk. “Their participation and fundraising supports the local fight against asthma, COPD, lung cancer and other lung diseases.”

More than 2,000 of this year’s climbers indicated they have been affected by lung disease or lung health concerns such as asthma, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, smoking, COPD or cystic fibrosis. With the help of climbers’ fundraising efforts, Respiratory Health Association estimates the event will raise $1 million.

Tim’s Climb Celebrates His Second Chance at Life

Written by Amanda Sabino with contributions from Tim Thornton

When Tim Thornton went skiing in March 2017, he didn’t think much of the fact he couldn’t keep up with his wife and daughter. He had always been physically active in a variety of sports and was used to the altitude – having previously lived in Colorado for 15 years – but supposed age was finally catching up with him. On a 7,000 foot elevation hike near Denver that same day, he completed just 300 feet. He sat on the side of the trail as his wife and daughter continued.

man and woman couple

Tim and his wife Malea on Mother’s Day 2019 shortly before his transplant.

That August, as Tim began to accept the slowdown of middle age, he went to his primary care physician with a persistent cough. A chest x-ray showed something abnormal, and a pulmonologist requested a CT scan.

It was just days before his son’s wedding when the CT results arrived, and Tim’s life changed forever. He was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a chronic, incurable disease that causes scarring in the lungs and makes breathing difficult.

Though daunted by the diagnosis, Tim and his family remained optimistic. The wedding celebration went forward as planned. Tim describes the day as pure joy, watching his son begin a future with his new wife.

Even on a day of celebration, Tim continued to confront what his future would hold.

“It isn’t easy being told you have a terminal disease for which there is no cure,” Tim says. “The mental conflicts were enormous. In the back of my mind, I knew I had to face reality, but I also wanted to stay as positive as possible to focus on the goal of staying strong and getting better.”

Tim’s breathing continued to worsen through 2018, and although he danced at his work holiday party, by then his lung capacity was half that of healthy lungs.

Later that winter, Tim caught a virus. His lung capacity plummeted. He began 2019 on oxygen, both at work and at home. By March, his lung capacity was down to 30 percent of normal. He was put on the list to get a lung transplant.

Still, he remained optimistic. He wrote in a blog post that May, “The doctors continue to say they receive a couple of calls per day about possible matches, but they are not ‘quality.’… I am number 1 or 2 on this regional list so I am very optimistic. My health is stable…. I am thankful that my spirit and soul feel healthy and strong.”

Yet Tim found his spirit continuously tested. On May 12, he received a call from the transplant coordinator saying they had found a match. Tim checked-in for surgery that evening, only to find the transplant team had determined the new lungs were not the perfect match.

The wait continued. He knew the call could come at any time. For a transplant to work, however, everything has to go right. Even the common cold can prevent a recipient from receiving new lungs.

man getting breathing levels checked

Tim celebrates his new lungs and breathing like normal again.

“I had full faith in the system and the great people,” Tim says, describing his care team from Loyola University Chicago “You do start getting worried if everything is going to line up,” he admits.

A New Lease on Life

Dr. Dilling, Tim’s pulmonologist and clinical expert in lung transplants, would see him in the hospital halls walking around with his oxygen

tank. With a mixture of amusement and pride in his patient, he’d say, “every time I come around here you’re always walking around.”

Tim would respond with a hopeful smile and say, “Well, you told me to stay healthy.”

As Tim rested in the pre-ICU one night, the hospital bed phone rang. It was Dr. Dilling – and the normally reserved doctor sounded very excited.

man and woman outside

Tim and his daughter Lexi during “Dad’s Weekend” at the University of Illinois, shortly after his transplant.

“I think we found the perfect lungs for you.”

Once Tim confirmed he was ready, the wheels were set in motion. Half of the transplant team hurried to get the lungs in time. The other half of the team prepared for surgery.

Tim’s surgery went well, and within 24 hours of waking up his breathing was strong enough they took out the respirator. Not only was he breathing on his own, but he could even whistle. During the most challenging aspects of his recovery, this was the moment he held on to.

The roller coaster of mental challenges Tim endured has made him grateful every day. His journey with IPF and receiving a transplant inspired him to sign-up for Respiratory Health Association’s Hustle Chicago stair climb.

And every day, he’s able to exercise and train for a little bit longer. “It was surreal that you could go from not being able to breathe to thinking that you have a second chance with a new set of lungs,” he says. “I am forever grateful to the donor’s family who made the decision to donate the gift of life.”

Tim’s family will join him as part of the Loyola’s Lung Angels team for the February 23 climb at Hustle Chicago. To join Tim on his journey to fight IPF and help fundraise for lung disease research, click here.

Maureen Remembers Her Mother with Each Step

Story written by Amanda Sabino

Joan Flynn challenged herself to take the stairs whenever possible, and her daughter Maureen followed. As Maureen would pause and struggle to catch her breath, the chances of gaining ground on her mother faded. Joan was already waiting at the top stair, joking with Maureen as she had many times before.

“The stairs never get any easier, do they, Maureen?”

Maureen and her mother were best friends. They lived within walking distance of each other and even worked together at Loyola University Medical Center. They spent a lot of time together, enjoying shared loves of exercise, cooking and music – especially Bruce Springsteen.

“My brother Dan, mom and I were big Springsteen fans,” Maureen says. “The three of us would always see him in Chicago when he toured.”

Maureen always drew inspiration from her mother who, as she describes came from very humble beginnings. Joan’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland, and she lived in a house with no running water in the bathroom and few possessions. This modest upbringing kept her grounded and thankful for the important things in life as she grew up, began a career in nursing and eventually started a family. She cherished her husband, five children, nine grandchildren and her health.

“Some of the fondest memories that I have of my mom was her helping me with my babies,” Maureen recalls. The bond they shared is clear as Maureen describes how her mother would drop everything to help out when she needed it.

“I miss her so much.”

group of people smiling

Maureen Campbell (second left) and her family team “Joan’s Little Climbers,” at the 2019 Hustle Chicago stair climb.

It was early in 2017 when the family noticed her slowing down a bit. Maureen and Dan were planning the next Springsteen concert, but Joan felt she wouldn’t be able to keep up and turned down the invitation.

In July of that year, Joan was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her immediate reaction was not a question about how someone as healthy as her could have lung cancer, but about her five kids. “What am I going to tell them?” Maureen recalls her asking her physician. Joan never worried about herself.

Joan started treatment immediately at Loyola and fought valiantly, but the cancer continued to progress rapidly. When she was hospitalized in October of 2017, doctors knew there was nothing more they could do.

Maureen remembers the most difficult moment was telling her mother she had to stop radiation treatment. “You fought so hard and did everything you could,” she assured her mom.

Maureen shared the news and her brothers and sisters began gathering at the hospital. With 14 family members in the room, Joan looked around, laughed and said, “What the heck, it’s like Saturday Night Live in here!” With everyone now laughing, they played music and talked about their favorite memories.

Joan lost her life to lung cancer the next night. The funeral included her favorite people, her favorite music and bagpipes. Maureen gave the eulogy, and of course Springsteen played.

Joan’s children remember her love every day, and the injustice of her passing still marks Maureen.

woman smiling

Maureen celebrates completing her second climb in February 2019.

“Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer and the least funded. I’m still angry that this horrible disease took my mom. She did everything right.”

The two had talked about how hard her death would be for Maureen – something Joan understood well after having a close relationship with her own mother. Maureen leaned on Joan’s advice.

The loss still ran deeper than Maureen could have imagined. After learning about the Hustle Chicago® stair climb, she signed-up and began training. It helped her get through the first holiday season without her mom.

“The first year, Hustle Chicago saved me. I put all my energy into that. I over-trained. But I would have crawled up the stairs if I had to.”

When she arrived the morning of her first climb, everyone seemed to know Maureen’s story. Even before she exchanged words with the other climbers, she saw the compassion in their eyes. She walked up to the message boards, picked up a pen and knew immediately who she would write to – her mom.

Maureen felt empowered and fueled by her desire to help fund lung cancer research. “She was with me,” she describes. When she climbs, Maureen listens to the playlist they played at her mother’s funeral.

Maureen will climb for a third time in February, knowing her mom lovingly challenges her to take the stairs one more time.

Maureen honors the memory of her mom by committing to be a lung health champion and pledging to raise over $1,000 for Respiratory Health Association. To support Maureen’s fundraising for lung cancer research and RHA’s other work, click here.

children smiling together

The “Joan’s Little Climbers” team after finishing the 2019 climb.

Adam’s Marathon Journey Keeps His Friend’s Memory Alive

by Amanda Sabino

Adam Giglia and his friend Tim McCarren had just finished a half marathon in Adam’s hometown of Rochester, New York. They took a moment to look back on an inconceivable 13.1 miles.

“Can you imagine,” they said between breaths, “doing a full marathon?” The two laughed.

Adam never considered himself much of a runner, though sports have always been in his blood. By age three – much like the rest of western New York – he was in skates and playing hockey.

When the Miller family moved-in across the street during Adam’s sixth grade year, he and new neighbor Erik Miller bonded over sports. Adam and Erik were only a year apart in school, and became fast friends.

Living across the street from each other meant getting together often, which was also the case for their families.

Runner poses after finishing run

Adam pauses for a post-run photo.

Adam’s father Lew and Erik’s father Jack would often take the boys golfing. It was competitive, but always fun. Jack would sometimes talk about his glory days running while growing up in Chicago – even showing his many photos from distance races over the years.

“He was passionate about it,” Adam says.

A couple months after running the half marathon with Tim, Adam stood alongside Jack. After five years battling lung cancer, Jack entered hospice care.

Adam knew what he had to do, but the steps to get there seemed daunting. Everything he read said how challenging marathons could be. Was it possible?

His mind was set. He promised to run the 2019 Chicago Marathon in Jack’s honor.

That commitment was the ultimate currency of their friendship to Jack. Though he ran the Boston Marathon, he had never done so in his native Chicago. Adam was hopeful Jack would have the chance.

“You’re going to win next year,” he said.

In September, Jack lost his life to lung cancer. Now, Adam runs not only for him, but for his grieving friend Erik and lung cancer survivors everywhere.

“I’m committed to do whatever it takes to cross that finish line.”

Training has lived up to its reputation. He describes it as the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life. He wants to finish in less than four hours, and after months of sacrifice he’s getting close to his goal.

His friends and family will be at the marathon to support him. Tim, who has played chief motivator during training, will once again run alongside Adam. But they’ll be missing Jack.

Runners pose after running half marathon

Tim, his wife Marissa and Adam after the half marathon in Rochester.

Adam imagines Jack would want to celebrate by buying a round of beers.

“Were this 20 years ago,” he says, “he’d be waiting for me at the finish and saying, ’what took you so long?’”

Those watching the marathon can spot Adam in his custom t-shirt with Chicago Bears colors. Jack was a huge fan of the Bears.

Adam sees every step of 26.2 miles as an opportunity to raise funds for lung cancer with Respiratory Health Association’s Lung Power Team. Money raised for research may prevent someone else from going through what Jack went through.

“This run’s for Jack.”

To support Adam’s run for lung cancer research, click here.

Lauren’s Helping Kids Breathe Easier

In April 2018, 9–year-old Lauren Wilson shook hands with Senator Daniel Biss and sat down to educate him about a new law being considered in the Illinois legislature – Stock Emergency Asthma Rescue Medication in Schools. The legislation allows schools across the state to keep a supply of albuterol on hand to deal with asthma episodes and other respiratory emergencies, similar to how they keep an EpiPen on hand for allergy emergencies. Advocates like Lauren helped get the law passed in May 2018– now, they’re trying to make sure that it gets implemented. For her first persuasive writing assignment in 3rd grade, she wrote a 3-page paper on why they need to use the new law to stock albuterol in her school.

Father, daughter and senator pose during lung health advocacy meeting.

Lauren and father Jeremy meet with Senator Biss

“Why does it take so long?” That’s Lauren’s newest question for Illinois State legislators. For kids living with asthma who rely on medications like albuterol, waiting for the law to take effect impacts their ability to live well. Lauren carries her inhaler in her backpack and keeps a backup with the school nurse, but those medications are specific to Lauren. The new law lets schools keep ‘undesignated’ medication – meaning it is not prescribed to a specific person – that can be administered to anyone in respiratory distress. This is an important fail-safe in case someone runs out of medication, forgets or loses an inhaler or, as often happens, experiences breathing difficulty for the first time and hasn’t been diagnosed yet. Lauren wants her school to be as prepared for an asthma episode as she is. Lauren has been an advocate for those living with asthma for most of her life, which stems from her own experience with respiratory issues. Lauren was in and out of the hospital and emergency care as an infant. “It was the scariest experience of my life,” her father, Jeremy remembers. “When they tell you that you should say goodbye to your child after hearing she has gone into respiratory failure.”

After her respiratory failure at six months old, doctors diagnosed Lauren with reactive airway because she was too young at the time for a full asthma diagnosis. She began treatment at that time. At four years old, her pulmonologist made the expected diagnosis of asthma. Throughout this journey, Lauren’s mom, Stephanie, began researching ways the entire family could be proactive in Lauren’s care. They worked closely with a pediatrician to develop an asthma action plan and watched Lauren’s symptoms to identify her triggers. Stephanie’s research also led her to Respiratory Health Association, and the entire family got involved. Lauren’s last hospitalization came last fall. Her asthma has been mostly under control since, but it always requires careful monitoring. In the meantime, Lauren continues to participate in sports and spend time with her friends. “I feel pretty fine doing sports,” Lauren says. “I usually don’t have triggers with sports, mostly just allergies and colds.”

Stephanie reminds her, “If you really pushed, we’d give you 2 pumps of albuterol for stair climbs.” Lauren is very proud of the collection of medals she has from sports and charity events. “I keep them all around the house,” she says mischievously. “We’ll find them everywhere,” Stephanie confirms. In October 2018 RHA presented her an award for her asthma advocacy efforts. The Next Generation Advocate awards are given to young people who stand up for a future free of lung disease and to protect our clean air. Lauren keeps that award in the front of the house, where everyone can see it.

Youth advocate and policy director pose with award for efforts to support lung health

Lauren and Matt Maloney, RHA Directory, Health Policy during the 2018 awards ceremony

She also has medals for Hustle Chicago, RHA’s stair climb, and the CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour, which she participated in as an 18-mile rider the first weekend in August. But there are challenges that come with asthma, summer heat, and physical activity. “We didn’t go out and ride today,” Jeremy mentions. “But she did 9 miles a few days ago.” Before July’s heat wave hit the Midwest, Lauren rode a couple times a week. But as the weather got hotter, the air quality worsened and became unhealthy for people with lung disease. Now that it’s cooled down and air quality has improved, she’s back to good riding conditions. It’s just another thing her parents monitor to help keep her asthma under control.

Jeremy and Stephanie joined Lauren for their 5th year of riding CowaLUNGa. She rode 18 miles on the back of Jeremy’s bike and plans to ride the 18 miles on her own bike next year. With plenty of time to train, she’s ready for the challenge. Lauren proudly describes her bike as blue and silver. “I just learned how to shift gears on it. I went on my first hill recently, and down. That’ll make the hill on the first day not as bad,” she says.

Another milestone she’s ready for?

“She wants that big 20 year trophy,” Jeremy says of the celebratory trophies RHA gives five, 10, 15 and 20 year riders. “And I believe she’ll get it.”

Besides asking her fellow riders to join her in supporting RHA’s advocacy efforts, she offers this advice: “Get out and ride. Wear comfy clothes: bike shorts, gloves and a helmet.” To join The Wilsons in their efforts to fund asthma research, advocacy and education, support their fundraising here.

23rd Annual CowaLUNGa Takes Place August 3-5, 2019

Registration for CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour 2019 is now open! Escape the noise of the city for a weekend and explore the scenic Midwest as you bike through northern Illinois into southern Wisconsin.

About CowaLUNGa 2019 Charity Bike Tour

Along the way, you’ll experience an unparalleled level of camaraderie and support from other cyclists and Respiratory Health Association, while helping RHA achieve its vision of healthy lungs and clean air for all.

This is RHA’s 23rd year hosting the CowaLUNGa bike ride, so you can rely on our expertise from years of experience to give you a world-class event.

Choose to ride 18 or 65 miles in one day, 130 miles in two days or 190 miles over three days.

What’s Included When you Register?

All routes are one-way with free return transportation back to the start line and include full SAG and medical support; two daily rest stops; breakfast and dinner. Free overnight parking is available onsite at Gurnee Mills for the event’s duration.

Two and three-day riders (130 & 190 mile routes) also receive comfortable, indoor housing accommodations.

Saturday night is spent at the newly-remodeled Conference Point Center (CPC) on the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva. CPC has 5 stars on Facebook and 4.5 stars on Google reviews!

Sunset over Lake Geneva from Conference Point Center in William's Bay Wisconsin A bedroom at Conference Point Center - Night one of Cowalunga 2019 Living area of a cabin at Conference Point Center Conference Point Center grounds during CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour

Sunday night is CowaLUNGa’s college throw back night at University of Wisconsin Whitewater. Prop those dorm doors open and relive those carefree campus days, complete with games and entertainment in the UWW Student Center.

Dorms at University of Wisconsin WhitewaterUniversity of Wisconsin Whitewater Campus FountainCowaLUNGa entertainment at UWW Student Center

Read more about housing, logistics and other event details here.

Additionally, every participant receives an event shirt and a finisher’s medal at the end of the route to commemorate the bike ride!

CowaLUNGa 2019 Costs & Deadlines

Registration fees and fundraising minimums vary by mileage. Early bird registration discounts are available until June 15.  First-time riders that select two or three day routes receive 50% off registration. Call 312-628-0200 for more information on or to register with our first-time rider discount.

 

CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour 2019 Registration fees chart

For more details, see Costs & Deadlines.

Funds raised support RHA’s programs:

 

Still thinking it over? Sign up for CowaLUNGa email updates.

Ready to ride CowaLUNGa 2019? Start your journey!

Nestor’s Giving Cancer a Run for Its Money

Before January 2018, Nestor Rivera had never even run a 5k. Now, less than two years later, he plans to run the Chicago Marathon with Respiratory Health Association’s Lung Power Team.

“You’d be amazed at what you can train your body to do,” Nestor says. “If you’re just consistent – not perfect – consistent.”

Nestor Rivera running a race

Nestor Rivera is going from couch to marathon in 2 years!

Nestor chose the Lung Power Team because of its mission to fight lung disease. His parents were in their teens when they began smoking. He recalls that his parents were chain smokers from the time he was born to the time he was 9 years old. As a child, he recognized them only with a cigarette in their hand.

But when his sister was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 21, they feared the possibility that their secondhand smoke had been a contributing factor in the development of her illness. They quit smoking right then. Then in 2013, Nestor’s mother Milagros went in for a lung biopsy to explore an unusual spot  found during tests. After the biopsy, Nestor got a call that he describes as “absolutely earth-shattering.”

“You think you’re going to get a phone call that says everything has gone routinely. Next thing you know, I got word that one third of her lung is gone.”

Nestor’s mother was diagnosed with stage one lung cancer and had a third of her right lung resected on the very same day. Immediately after the surgery Milagros’ breathing was different, but over time she settled into a new normal. Nestor says she’s now feeling great, and as of a few weeks ago, Milagros has been in remission for almost six years. “It’s amazing what your body can tolerate,” Nestor says.

 

Nestor Rivera with his parents in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Nestor Rivera is running the Chicago marathon in honor of his mother, a lung cancer survivor.

 

His mother’s diagnosis made a huge impact on Nestor and was part of what spurred him to take up running. He’d never been a smoker, but he began to consider – what are other actions could he take to improve his overall health? Since his first race, the Chicago Cubs Race to Wrigley, Nestor has completed eleven more 5k races, two 10ks and a half marathon. He has three more half marathons on the docket for 2019 before running with the Lung Power Team in the fall.

“If there’s a challenge, I’m gonna take it,” Nestor says. “All you really need are a good pair of shoes. It’s not about getting the best time. It’s about achieving things that you didn’t think were possible.”

Nestor’s fundraising has now hit $3,016.20, putting him in first place towards the Lung Power Team’s $42,000 goal. His advice to fellow fundraisers?

Personalize the message.

In addition to his mother’s story, he also shares that his father-in-law has had chronic asthma his entire life. Nestor runs for him, too.

“When I’ve reached out to people individually, I’ve gotten more results,” he says. One challenge Nestor says he faces is that donors don’t feel they can contribute enough. “Some [people] think it’s better not to donate than to donate less than $100, but that’s not true. Every bit counts.” He notes how important it is to make every person feel like their donation makes a difference, no matter the amount.

His final note for fundraising matches his advice for training:

“Persistence.”

To help Nestor and his family fundraise for lung cancer research, asthma, and Tobacco 21, visit Nestor’s fundraising page.

RHA Staffers Hustle For The Mission

On February 24 more than 3,000 people came together in support of a future free of lung disease. A future with healthy lungs and clean air for all. The occasion? Hustle Chicago, RHA’s charity stair climb up 875 N. Michigan Ave., the building formerly called the John Hancock Center.

At RHA we don’t just serve our mission as part of our day jobs – almost every member of our staff participates in our events or volunteers personal time. And this year’s Hustle was no exception. The 2019 RHA Hustlers team brought 21 employees, friends and family together to go the extra mile (or 1,632 steps!) for lung health.

RHA Hustlers team photos at Hustle Chicago 2019

Why We Do What We Do

To share with you some of the passion the team brings to our mission, here’s a quote from RHA Hustlers team captain and RHA staffer, Lesli Vaughan.

“As many of you know, I work in tobacco cessation and prevention at RHA. Mainly that means I work to prevent teens and young adults from starting to smoke or use tobacco products and to help those who do smoke to be smoke free. It’s some of the most rewarding work I’ve done in my life.

There’s nothing quite like hearing someone who smoked multiple packs of cigarettes a day tell you how proud he is of himself because he is now smoke free for the first time in 40 years. Or see a high school student stand up in front of a room full of legislators to tell them why they should adopt a Tobacco 21 policy.

I always say I’m doing the easy work — it’s these people who do the hard stuff. I’m just there to support them.

Unfortunately, the tobacco industry has loads of money and they fight every single day to get more people hooked on cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products.

Despite their non-stop attempts, we can win this battle. But honestly, we need help to do it. As a small non-profit, we don’t have nearly as much money as the tobacco lobbyists that we fight against daily. Your support helps RHA reach new people with our Courage to Quit cessation program and educate more teens, lawmakers, and others about the dangers of tobacco.”

Together the team as raised over $17,000, but we’re still short of our overall fundraising goal for Hustle Chicago 2019.

 

You Can Make a Difference

Thanks to an anonymous donor, all fundraising campaigns in 2019 lead by RHA staff are generously matched $2 for every $1 raised. This effectively triples all gifts given to RHA staff campaigns!

If you’d like to support Respiratory Health Association’s work toward a future free of lung cancer, asthma and COPD and want to see your gift go three times further, donate to one of our RHA Hustlers today.

Joel Africk

Avanthi Chatrathi

Adrienne Hiegel

Mary Rosenwinkel

Magda Slowik

Brian Urbaszewski

Lesli Vaughan

Joann Wong

The Hustle Chicago fundraising deadline is end of day TOMORROW Friday, March 15th.

RHA Raises $156,000 for the Local Fight Against Lung Disease at Annual CHILL Fundraiser

On Thursday, November 8, Respiratory Health Association participated in LuxeHome’s annual event, CHILL: An International Wine and Culinary Event at the historic Merchandise Mart.

Over 1,000 RHA guests sampled a variety of international wines and gourmet foods from Chicago’s premier restaurants to support Respiratory Health Association’s education, research, and policy change efforts.

RHA supporters take a break from the CHILL fun to smile for a photo.

RHA supporters take a break from the CHILL fun to smile for a photo.

Group enjoying their wine samples at CHILL 2018 in the historic Merchandise Mart.

Group enjoying their wine samples at CHILL 2018.

LuxeHome’s event supports three Chicago area charities–Respiratory Health Association is the longest standing charity beneficiary. The 2018 CHILL event marked RHA’s twelfth year participating.

In addition to ticket sales driven by the RHA host committee, the Association raises funds through an onsite wine pull sponsored by McGrath Lexus, silent auction and raffle.

This year, the silent auction offered packages like:

  • An all-inclusive 7-10 day vacation in St. Lucia
  • Two tickets to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert in New York City
  • A guest role in WTTW’s hit show Check, Please!

The success of the silent auction contributed to the overall $156,000 RHA raised for the local fight against lung disease. Thank you to all of our supporters who bid on items.

In addition to the silent auction, RHA is proud to host the Aaland Diamond Jewelers Raffle, with a gorgeous grand prize generously donated by Aaland Diamond Jewelers.

This year’s prizes:

Grand Prize:
One (1) diamond ring by AaLand Diamond Jewelers

Second Prize:
$500 restaurant gift card to Trattoria No. 10

Third Prize:
2015 Bogle Phantom Red Blend California 3L

If you missed CHILL, you can still get in on the raffle fun by purchasing tickets from the RHA website.

Tickets are available until December 14, 2018 11:30 AM CST or until 500 tickets are sold. Perfect timing for a wonderful holiday gift!

Thanks again to all of our CHILL host committee members and sponsors for your continued support of RHA and our vision of healthy lungs and clean air for all.

Revisit the fun of CHILL 2018 on RHA’s Flickr account.