American Lung Association Honors Wendy Sparks with 2015 Volunteer Excellence Award
(July 21, 2015) - Chicago, IL
On June 26, the American Lung Association recognized the outstanding volunteer work of Wendy L. Sparks with its Volunteer Excellence Award. The award was presented during the Lung Association’s annual Volunteer and Staff Awards Ceremony in Chicago, Illinois.
Wendy Sparks, of Paoli, Okla., first got involved with the American Lung Association in 2013 after she lost her sister Nikki at 38 to lung cancer. In honor of her sister, Wendy created "Team Nikki" to participate in the American Lung Association in Oklahoma’s annual Fight For Air Climb. Through her enthusiasm and leadership, "Team Nikki" has led the Oklahoma Fight For Air Climb in fundraising two years in a row, raising more than $30,000 to support the American Lung Association’s mission to fight lung disease, like the one that took her sister.
"Volunteering for the Lung Association is a healing process. I feel I'm doing something to keep Nikki's name alive and that she did not die in vain," Wendy said. "I try to encourage other people who have gone through the same type of loss to get involved and make a difference for your loved one. Some feel like it will hurt too much to talk about it or be around people talking about cancer, but I tell them it only makes it easier being around people who understand and who have gone through the same types of things and knowing how proud your loved one would be."
After the 2014 Climb, Wendy expanded her volunteer efforts by becoming the chair of the LUNG FORCE committee and joined the board of her local Lung Association as the LUNG FORCE representative. LUNG FORCE, launched in May of 2014, is the American Lung Association's growing initiative that unites women across the country against lung cancer and for lung health. In both roles, Wendy has been exceptional - sharing ideas, giving financially, fundraising and recruiting new committee members.
"Wendy is an outstanding volunteer whose contributions make a real difference in Oklahoma and nationally," said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. "Volunteers like Wendy are vital to our success and an inspiration to all of us because everything they do comes from a true dedication to our mission and the desire to help others.
"Wendy’s dedication to LUNG FORCE, in honor of her sister, is especially important right now. Too few women see lung cancer as a top-of-mind threat, yet lung cancer remains the number-one cancer killer of women," Wimmer said. "Our success in changing this depends on volunteer LUNG FORCE Heroes like Wendy to help increase awareness about this serious issue, raise funds for lung cancer research, and provide resources to empower patients, caregivers and healthcare providers."
Wendy has been an active volunteer for the Lung Association, sharing her story with the media and at countless events.
"Wendy has taken the mission of the American Lung Association and made it her own, with a passion that is both inspirational and contagious. Her Volunteer Excellence Award is well deserved," said Wimmer.
For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung cancer, lung health or the LUNG FORCE initiative, contact the American Lung Association at Media@Lung.org or 312-801-7628.