Volunteers Celebrated as 'Heart' of the American Lung Association at National Annual Awards Program

Every day, the American Lung Association performs its lifesaving work in communities large and small across the U.S. At the heart of this critical mission are hundreds of thousands of volunteers who generously give their time so that others can breathe easier and have a healthier future. On Saturday, June 22, the American Lung Association – the first voluntary health organization in America – recognized volunteer excellence and the priceless value of the volunteer spirit at its Annual Volunteer Awards in Chicago.

"More than 110 years ago, the American Lung Association was founded by a diverse group of volunteers, including prominent physicians and concerned citizens, all determined to eradicate tuberculosis, the leading cause of death at the time," said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. "Today, our expanded mission includes all lung diseases, including asthma, COPD and lung cancer – the leading cancer killer in the U.S. But one thing has not changed – at the very heart of our organization is a corps of selfless volunteers, dedicated to our mission and building an America free of lung disease. As we honor this year's exceptional award winners, we also celebrate all our volunteers nationwide, and those from years past on whose shoulders we all stand."


  • Volunteer Excellence Award - Steve Cothalis, RRT - Morrisville, Vermont
    Steve Cothalis, a registered respiratory therapist, began volunteering with the American Lung Association in Vermont in 1997, and since has volunteered each year for the five-day residential asthma camp. He has also volunteered or participated in nearly every Vermont fundraiser, founded and facilitated the Better Breathers Club at Copley Hospital in Morrisville, and has mentored healthcare professionals to start new Clubs. He is an inspiration to his Better Breathers Club members – individuals living with COPD and other chronic lung diseases - challenging them to reach further physically and to set goals, such as to walk several miles in the Lung Association's Healthy Air Walk and the LUNG FORCE Walk. He has also served on the Vermont local leadership board and various planning committees, participated in many Lung Association trainings, including the Asthma Educator Institutes and has also organized transportation for his patients to attend the LUNG FORCE Expo.
  • Volunteer Excellence Award - Christine Fisher - Indialantic, Florida
    Christine Fisher’s involvement with the American Lung Association began in 1997, when she and her husband Tad worked with the Lung Association to amend the Florida Constitution to prohibit smoking in public places including workplaces, a perfect fit for Fisher, who has a passion for protecting people from secondhand smoke. Since then Fisher has become one of the Lung Association’s most active volunteers. She has served on the Lung Association Southeast Region’s Advocacy Committee since 2005 and is the current chair of both the Regionwide Advocacy Committee and the Florida Advocacy Committee as well as serving on the National Public Policy Committee. Fisher has an extraordinary reputation within Florida, and has been effective at securing grant funding for multiple projects, including funds to support smoking cessation advocacy in Florida. She is quick to offer solutions and strategic counsel and backs up her ideas with action.
  • Volunteer Excellence Award – Patty Ginsburg – Anchorage, Alaska
    Patty Ginsburg is a lung cancer survivor who has chosen to pay forward her gratitude for her survival in volunteer service to the American Lung Association. Ginsburg, her husband Steve, and “Team Patty” have raised over $110,000 through cycling events over the last six years. She has become a passionate advocate for tobacco prevention, smokefree air, healthcare coverage and research funding, as well as sharing her story as a former smoker and a lung cancer survivor to help move forward a previously stalled Alaska smokefree workplace bill. She is an effective and connected mission-driven governance leader and fundraiser, and her leadership has been instrumental in strengthening the organization in the region.
  • Volunteer Excellence Award – Jonathon Rosen – Wilton, Connecticut
    Jon Rosen's 35 years as an American Lung Association volunteer began in Hudson Valley, New York. He has been an outstanding volunteer at the local, state, regional and national level serving with integrity, passion, dedication and collaboration. Rosen has annually participated in the New York City LUNG FORCE Walk as captain of "Team Board Walkers," raising over $20,000 in its first three years. As a media relations professional, he created and delivered pro bono media training for public policy staff and sales presentation skills training for development team members. He has also provided crisis management and communications, and media relations consulting at the national, regional and local levels. He is a strong advocate, and been featured in articles about air quality and tobacco control in local publications and online. Rosen will serve on the American Lung Association National Board starting July 1.
  • C. Everett Koop Unsung Heroes Award – Sandy Renor, RN, BS – Saint Peter Minnesota
    The American Lung Association and the C. Everett Koop Foundation present the annual Unsung Heroes’ Award to an advocate for tobacco control who has made significant, but frequently unrecognized contributions to reduce the burden of tobacco use. Renor is recognized for her significant role in successful tobacco control efforts in Minnesota, including a successful vote by the Mankato City Council to make bars and restaurants smokefree. As a registered nurse with a community health degree, she quickly became the tobacco expert of the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, founded in 2009. When tasked with implementing county tobacco-free grounds policies, Renor performed rigorous research, learning from state level experts including Lung Association staff, reviewing sample policies, and reaching out to other local governments in order to write the most effective tobacco-free grounds policy for her community.
  • Will Ross Medal – Arthur A. Cerullo – Portland, Maine
    The Will Ross Medal is the highest honor bestowed on a volunteer from the American Lung Association who has made a significant contribution to the prevention and control of lung disease. The air is healthier, lung health is better and the American Lung Association is stronger, thanks to Art Cerullo. A committed mission advocate, he has testified at Environmental Protection Agency public hearings and helped increase volunteer engagement at Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. He also helped lead the effort to update Lung Association public policy positions – work that continues to this day – and led the call to for the American Lung Association to advocate for healthy air to highlight the importance of air quality to public health. That message has enabled our Healthy Air Campaign to successfully advocate to clean-up power plants, cars and gasoline, wood-burning devices and to set more protective pollution standards. Cerullo has mentored and recruited many board members and community members to help the Lung Association achieve its mission. Cerullo exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism.

For media interested in learning more about or speaking with this year's winners, contact Allison MacMunn at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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