Saluting Our Priceless Volunteers

April 7-13 is National Volunteer Week. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our volunteers for their contributions to the American Lung Association.  As the oldest voluntary health organization in the country, we have a long heritage of working with volunteers.  We were founded by volunteers, including our first president, the famous Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, and for 115 years active and engaged volunteers have been the American Lung Association’s greatest asset.

Volunteers serve in a multitude of capacities, making priceless contributions at every level of our organization.  Whether they help provide community outreach, work as advocacy storytellers, participate at events, provide vital leadership or support us in countless other ways, they exemplify the generous, dedicated spirit of volunteerism, which is so vital to our lifesaving mission. Let’s meet a few!

Nancy Vandespool is one of our most dedicated LUNG FORCE Heroes. She's originally from Puerto Rico, a mother, and also a 10-year lung cancer survivor. She was shocked to be diagnosed with lung cancer at only 38, and when she learned about our LUNG FORCE initiative, she was quick to volunteer. Nancy has shared her story in our #ShowYourLUNGFORCE video, participated when LUNG FORCE rang the opening bell at the NASDAQ in New York, and most recently was featured in our Lock Up Lung Cancer campaign. "I share my voice because we all need a hug and a smile. We all need to know that there's always a light at the end of the road," says Nancy.

If there’s one way to describe Rebecca Glommen, it has to be "fully committed." And she has good reason. Rebecca, who is a nurse, has struggled with asthma her entire life, lost a lung to lung cancer, and her husband has COPD. So, to her, our mission is personal. She is an active advocate for our Healthy Air Campaign and has testified before EPA and made several advocacy trips to Capitol Hill. Most recently, she showed her dedication as a volunteer participant in our Baltimore Fight For Air Climb, joining hundreds on March 9 to raise funds for lung disease research. She climbed 27 flights of stairs, 650 steps, and did it despite the challenges of having only one lung!

Physicians have been eager volunteers from the very beginning, and today Andrea McKee, M.D. carries on that tradition. Dr. McKee is Division Chair Radiation Oncology at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Burlington Massachusetts and Lahey Peabody Medical Center, Peabody Massachusetts. Dr. McKee serves as Partner, Radiation Oncology Associates and Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine. She is one of our longest-serving volunteer medical spokespeople, and active on many other fronts. Her expertise in the area of lung cancer makes her a valuable member of our Lung Cancer Expert Medical Advisory Panel, and she has appeared in videos and authored a number of blogs for us on the topic of lifesaving lung cancer screening. Dr. McKee also served as co-chair of the lung cancer screening steering committee that developed our Lung Cancer Screening Implementation Guide.

At the Lung Association, we always keep patients at the forefront, including when it comes to our Research Team. That's where Mike Foley comes in. Mike has a very special role on our Research Team as a member of one of our Patient Advisory Groups. Advisory group participants are engaged in the Lung Association's research programs, advocacy initiatives and educational efforts. The patient advisors work closely with our Airways Clinical Research Centers network to help guide studies based on patient priorities, provide input into research design, methodologies and outcomes. Mike has COPD and learned about and then got enrolled in a COPD clinical trial cosponsored by the American Lung Association and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. He works closely with his pulmonologist Dr. Kaharu Sumino. "Early on in our clinical trial with Mike, we knew right away that he was an engaged and vocal participant. I knew he would be a great candidate for our COPD Advisory Board," said Dr. Sumino. "Mike has been able to give voice to the patient when we start to design a clinical trial.  His perspective is invaluable, so that our research is successful in meeting patient needs. Mike agrees, "It truly is a collaboration, and it’s just been really inspiring for me to give back to the American Lung Association and help support research that other patients will benefit from."

To All Our Volunteers

Thank you to all our volunteers for all you do to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Without your donation of time, talent, wisdom and leadership, we could not have achieved our many successes in advocacy, research and health promotion. As a Lung Association volunteer, your dedication ensures that our vision of a world free of lung disease becomes closer to reality with every passing day It's often said that the reason volunteers aren’t paid is because their contributions are priceless. Nothing could better describe our thousands of dedicated volunteers all across the country.

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