John Bess

John Bess was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at the young age of 40. His condition worsened, and eventually he was not able to continue his work as an engineer and had to go on disability. Still a young man, John wanted to do something with his life to help others who were suffering with his condition. A year ago, John approached the American Lung Association of California East Bay office and expressed an interest in becoming involved with its fledgling COPD programs. He now volunteers with the American Lung Association approximately 16 hours per week.

John's first task was to reorganize and update the Better Breathers Clubs information for the Bay Area on the American Lung Association website. John then served as a Lung Association representative at the Heart Lung Games, where he earned two gold medals in the process.

Recently, John volunteered to spearhead the Bay Area's first Respiratory Rally, a half-day educational event for COPD patients and their caregivers. John has overseen nearly all aspects of the Rally, which will take place in October. Through his work for the Rally, John has cultivated new partners for the Lung Association. As part of the outreach for the event, John did an interview with CNN Local Edition, which aired throughout the Bay Area in August. His real love is speaking to other COPD patients. He aims to teach people with COPD that they CAN manage their condition and to help COPD patients to be optimistic in their outlook. He is currently researching and developing a booklet on emergency preparedness for chronically ill lung patients.

John also serves on the American Lung Association COPD Patient Advisory Group, and was recently nominated as the American Lung Association patient representative to the National Institutes of Health's Agency for Healthcare Research Quality.