TAMPA, FL | October 31, 2017
Leia Schwartz often reflects over her life and credits her biggest obstacle as her biggest blessing. Despite being diagnosed with asthma at three years old, Schwartz lived a very active life as a child. But that changed in an instant when Schwartz suffered an asthma attack in kindergarten while simply jumping rope, resulting in her lungs collapsing and a month-long hospitalization. Now, with her asthma managed and health thriving, she is an award-winning singer/songwriter, attending college, and giving back to the community through volunteering with the American Lung Association.
Schwartz is a featured speaker at the upcoming LUNG FORCE Turquoise Tango Affair Gala taking place on Saturday, November 11, at TPepin Hospitality Centre in Tampa from 6:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. ET. The gala will highlight Schwartz and a variety of speakers and local celebrity performers to raise awareness of the importance of lung health and lung cancer through the American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE, a national initiative raising awareness to lung cancer in women.
The evening will include a tango competition with celebrity and professional ballroom dancers, silent auction, mission moment to raise funds to send severely asthmatic children to Camp Boggy Creek, a 4-course gourmet dinner, and dancing.
This year's celebrity performers include: Yerman Salazar of Telemundo Tampa; Celia Merritt, Lieutenant at Hillsborough County Fire Rescue; Lydia Spriggs, Business Development Consultant; Alina Klein, Sunspire Health‐Hyde Park; and Dr. Keith Wilson, Wellcare of Florida. Each dancer will perform tango routine to see who can accumulate the most votes and win the Lung Force trophy. Tickets or table sponsorship information for the event can be found at TampaTurquoiseGala.org. Votes can also be submitted for $10 online at for TampaTurquoiseGala.org.
"I'm honored to attend and speak at the upcoming Turquoise Tango Affair Gala," said Schwartz. "The American Lung Association and its mission are very special to me and I know that this is going to be an exciting event."
Schwartz initially got involved with the Lung Association through her pulmonologist, Dr. Beck, who insisted that she and her family participate in the Asthma Walk, now called the LUNG FORCE Run/Walk. Because of her condition and inability to walk the entire course, the Schwartz family decided to pull her in a little red wagon instead. It was also her first fundraiser and she went on to become a familiar face within the organization by participating in local and nationwide initiatives.
However, one American Lung Association program, Camp Boggy Creek changed her life, and receives funding from the upcoming Turquoise Tango Affair Gala.
"Everyone used to say Disney World was the most magical place in the world, but it's not," Schwartz said. "Camp Boggy Creek is. The camp showed me that there were kids just like me. I wasn't a happy child after my lungs collapsed."
Her family noticed a change after she attended Camp Boggy Creek. Schwartz returned home from the camp where she discovered some hidden talents which continue to be key parts in her life today.
"My favorite day at the camp was Stage Day where everyone had to perform," said Schwartz. "It's there where I learned of my passion for music. I used singing as therapy and it all started at Camp Boggy Creek. The camp and music were great influences for me. Camp Boggy Creek made me the person that I am today."
Today, Schwartz is now an award-winning singer/songwriter who attends Stetson University where she is completing a double major in Communication & Media Studies and Music. She also volunteers with several non-profit organizations and has transitioned from being a camper at Camp Boggy Creek to a counselor.
"It's amazing to be a counselor because I'm able to share my story and continue learning from the new campers," Schwartz stated. "Out of bad comes good and only you can define your limitations. Everyone has bumps along the way in life but the goal is to keep moving forward."
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, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
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