COVID-19 is still a new lung infection and has become an unpredictable global disrupter. During these times, the American Lung Association has made it a priority to monitor developments and offer support to all – especially individuals living with lung diseases like COPD, lung cancer or asthma who are at a higher risk for developing severe symptoms or complications from COVID-19.
Event postponements and cancellations are just a few of the adjustments the Lung Association has had to make during this time of uncertainty. But with those adjustments have come a host of mission successes that are worth acknowledging and celebrating, especially now.
5th Anniversary of LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day
Our LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day is an annual event for individuals personally affected by lung cancer, otherwise known as LUNG FORCE Heroes, to gather together from across the country and speak to members of Congress about research funding at the National Institutes of Health and the importance of continuing healthcare protections for all . Advocacy Day is traditionally an in-person event held in Washington, D.C., but COVID-19 had other plans for this year.
Despite the circumstances, our LUNG FORCE Heroes still met with Congress – remotely – and shared their stories about how their lives have been impacted by lung cancer. Our Heroes were able to make 172 calls (reaching 98 Senate offices and 84 House offices) asking Congress to support $44.7 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health, requesting that they also ensure that current health care protections, including those for patients with pre-existing conditions, will continue.
Virtual Fight For Air Climbs
One of our oldest and largest signature events, Fight For Air Climbs are held at skyscrapers across the country. Thousands of participants race up flights of stairs to raise awareness and funds for lung disease education, advocacy and research – a mission that is even more critical at this moment in time.
Several Climbs throughout the country had to be cancelled due to social distancing measures, so many of our volunteers and staff rallied to keep the momentum going by hosting Virtual Climbs in March and April.
Philadelphia Executive Director Caroline Hutchinson shared how the morning of the Philadelphia climb, held on March 28, looked a little different this year. “There was no alarm set at 4 a.m., no logistical fires to put out and no large gathering for our opening ceremony,” she said.
Instead the group worked with their local emcee Najee “The Flying Phoenix” Richardson, an American Ninja Warrior, who warmed up climbers and their families through Facebook Live. “He helped remind all of our virtual climbers why they were still with us, asking the virtual participants why they climbed or who they climbed for.”
Then participants took to their neighborhood streets, the stairs in their home, or around their backyard and climbed in a socially distanced way – sharing photos on social media to keep the momentum going!
More Virtual Events
- The Trek Across Maine is moving to a virtual event – and bike riders across the United States can now join! Participants are already tracking their miles and have raised over $304,000 so far!
- The Asthma Educator Institute also went virtual with hundreds of healthcare workers across the country convening to review and implement asthma guidelines-based care and for those qualified to take the National Asthma Educator Certification Board (NAECB) examination.
- Since mid-March, our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Albert Rizzo has hosted virtual Better Breathers Club meetings to share up-to-the-minute information about lung disease and COVID-19.
- This is a stressful time for many and people facing lung disease may feel more isolated than ever before. We’ve hosting Ask the Experts, posted conversation starters from our Lung HelpLine and shared a series of mindful breathing relaxation exercises with our free online support communities on Inspire.
These are just a handful of the ways that we have been able to continue to our mission work during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re proud of the ingenuity and responsiveness of our volunteers and staff, in spite of our current climate and look forward to highlighting many more achievements in the near future. To receive updates about lung resources, COVID-19 developments and more, visit Lung.org/covid19
Blog last updated: November 2, 2020