Steve Cothalis

The energy that Steve Cothalis, RRT, devotes to empower his patients with chronic lung disease, educate the public about the hazards of smoking and help children better manage their asthma makes him the ideal candidate for Volunteer of the Week.

In addition to working as a respiratory therapist at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, Vermont, Steve was instrumental in the founding of the Lung Association’s Better Breathers Club (BBC) at the hospital. Steve has provided support and advice for other health care professionals starting additional Better Breathers Clubs.

Steve challenges lung patients to reach physically demanding goals - going further than most can imagine. He encourages them to set goals, including walking 3.1 miles in the Lung Association’s Healthy Air Walk and most recently snowshoeing nearly three miles in the woods at the Lung Association’s Snowshoe Shuffle. With Steve’s encouragement, his BBC team has been one of the top fundraising teams at both events.

Steve has also been engaged in the American Lung Association in Vermont’s public policy efforts, helping to find speakers at press conferences, calling news shows about cigarette tax increases, attending legislative coffees to meet with legislators and contacting lawmakers about important lung health priorities.

Steve’s involvement does not stop with the Better Breathers Club and public policy. As a former Vermont board member, he serves on the Champ Camp for Kids with Asthma planning team and volunteers a week at camp each summer. Steve admits that in addition to teaching kids about peak flows, medications and asthma triggers, he loves camp activities, including the zip line, as much as the campers.

In 2008, Steve was recognized by his peers, earning the Respiratory Therapist of the Year Award from the Vermont-New Hampshire Respiratory Care Society. The president of Copley Hospital noted Steve’s passion for teaching and empowering patients with chronic pulmonary disease.