ILKES-BARRE TWP. — Kings’ College Betzler field was abuzz on Saturday morning with more than a hundred people participating in the annual Wilkes-Barre Fight for Air 5K Run and Walk.
Most were walking in memory of a loved one who had lost a battle with lung disease or who is currently challenged by the disease. All were very aware of the importance of the event — not simply as an opportunity to get some exercise on beautiful summer day, but to raise money for the American Lung Association, an organization that funds research, education and advocacy for those affected by lung disease and their families.
Anthony Delonti, program specialist, addressed attendees reminding them money raised by the Association was well spent, making it possible for the organization to work toward saving lives by improving lung health and preventing respiratory disease.
The Better Breathers Club sponsored by the organization provides education and support for those suffering from lung disease and their families.
Butch Modzelewski, a member of the club, said he has learned practical pointers that improve the quality of his life, including nutritional tips, medical information, and learning how to avoid triggers of COPD.
Refusing to let lung disease stand his way, Modzelewski, again shared his talent on the bag pipes during the walk, much to the delight of attendees.
Kindred Hospital Wyoming Valley, a presenting sponsor of the event, has supported the event from its beginning, initially sending a team to walk in the event and eventually through increased sponsorship.
Sharon Yurkiewicz, CEO at Kindred, said the organization’s goal is to support those they serve by becoming involved in community activities.
A long-term acute facility, 60 percent of patients there are affected by some form of respiratory distress.
Camp AsthmaCadabra, also a sponsor, sent a team in support of the camp that makes it possible for young people 7 through 12 to experience a full camp experience.
The overnight camp is a joint effort of the Max and Lorraine Foundation and the American Lung Association, and is staffed 24 hours a day by doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists, in addition to camp counselors and volunteers.
One of the highlights of the event was the memory wall displaying photos of dozens of those who had died from lung disease.
Many attendees said the photos reflected not only sadness about lives lost, but also a chance to celebrate those lives, and to work diligently to eradicate lung disease in memory of those who had lost their fight.
Kayla Correll and Jamie Deangelis, “Team Nana,” said their trip her from New Jersey was well worth it, as a tribute to their grandmother and an opportunity to raise money for the Association.
This is the first year the 5K race included a walk and a run. Delonti said organizers had carefully crafted courses walker and runner friendly.
Those seeking more information about the American Lung Association or to support its work may call 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit www.lungusa.org.
Those seeking information about or wanting to make a donation to Camp AsthmaCadabra may access its website at http://www.campasthmacadabra.org.