ATLANTA, GA | October 24, 2023
This Saturday, October 28, Valerie Harrison’s family and friends will once again come together to honor her memory at the LUNG FORCE Walk in Atlanta. Their team, “Val’s Buttermilk Biscuits,” is fundraising for research and, ultimately, a cure for lung cancer.
“We were all blindsided when Val was diagnosed with lung cancer,” recalled Jennifer Wahlen, Harrison’s sister. “She hadn’t had any obvious risk factors. She was active and healthy. She hadn’t smoked.”
Harrison, a wife and mother to three children, was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in the fall of 2021. She passed away in July 2022. She was only 49 years old.
“Shortly after Val’s passing, I started looking for ways to get engaged,” Wahlen said. “I found the Atlanta LUNG FORCE Walk online, quickly signed up and created a team. Val loved spending time in nature with her family – camping, hiking, canoeing and kayaking. The Walk was a way for us to spend time together outdoors to remember her.”
This year, Wahlen partnered up with Val’s teenaged daughter, Gwyn Harrison, to expand the team and their fundraising efforts.
“As we brainstormed for a name for our team, we remembered how much Val loved baked goods and decided that Val’s Buttermilk Biscuits was the perfect name for our team,” remarked Wahlen. “We hope to even have some warm biscuits on hand for our teammates this Saturday before the walk.”
Wahlen added, “Val was very involved in her community – volunteering in multiple capacities with her children’s activities and schools. She was also an advocate for children with disabilities. I know that if Val were here, she would be proud of the work the Walk supports. So, I am honored to be fundraising in her name, for this event.”
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. In fact, in 1987, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Every five minutes, a woman is told she has lung cancer. One in 17 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetimes.
However, there is hope. More people in the U.S. than ever are surviving lung cancer. The survival rate has increased by nearly 40 percent in the last decade. The Atlanta LUNG FORCE Walk supports the Lung Association’s work to end lung cancer through lifesaving research, education and advocacy.
“There are two things I want people to know,” Wahlen said. “The first is anyone can get lung cancer. No matter your age, gender or experience. We need to dispel the notion and stigma that it’s a smoker’s disease. Secondly, and most importantly, we need to fund research so we can understand what’s driving the disease and finally find a cure.”
Join Val’s Buttermilk Biscuits and hundreds of other lung health advocates from Atlanta and beyond at the LUNG FORCE Walk on October 28. To learn more, and register, visit LUNGFORCE.org/Atlanta.
To request an interview with Jennifer Wahlen, please contact Victoria O’Neill via email at [email protected] or call 312-273-5890.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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