This website uses cookies. By continuing you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

  • Share this page:


Russell W.

At the age of 10 I was diagnosed with asthma. At 36 I had a stroke. The paramedics came and visited me in hospital after I had my stroke as they didn't believe I had survived. After rebuilding my life after the stroke, I was hit with yet another health issue at 45 – COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

My name is Russell Winwood, also referred to as the COPD Athlete. My disease has left me with under 30% lung function, my life operates in an extreme environment. Imagine spending every hour of everyday being short of breath. My disease has no cure, it's progressive and kills over 3 million people every year. So, faced with this I could have let this disease slowly suffocate the life out of me. Instead, I did an Ironman event and then another, and another. Then I thought I'd run marathons around the world and raise money for charities, New York marathon, London marathon, Gold Coast marathon and recently the Boston marathon.

I'm very different to other disabled athletes who may have lost a limb or been confined to a life in a wheel chair because my disability effects the number one thing in life we cannot do without – oxygen. My disability doesn't have a category in the Para Olympics or any event because people with my disability don't run, cycle or swim. I'm the only person in the world with my disease who can do what I do. I live my life by what I call the Four Pillars of Living Well with COPD, they are Knowledge, Medication, Nutrition and Exercise!

My story is about the power of the mind and the ability to never let your disease define you!

First published: June 20, 2018

Watch this story as a video:

  Share this story:
Tell your story View all stories Donate

American Lung Association is solely responsible for content.

Hero stories are the point of view of the Hero and not necessarily the American Lung Association. The Lung Association does not endorse any specific provider, facility or treatment.


Donate to LUNG FORCE

Get Involved


Events Near Me

Lung Health Barometer


Sponsors & Supporters


Sign up for updates

Get the latest news and information on the fight against lung cancer and for lung health.

Red button with telephone
Ask An Expert

Questions about your lung health? Need help finding healthcare? Call 1-800-LUNGUSA.

Get help
Red button of two hand prints
We need your generous support

Make a difference by delivering research, education and advocacy to those impacted by lung disease.

Button of turquoise LUNG FORCE swirl

LUNG FORCE unites women and their loved ones across the country to stand together in the fight against lung cancer.

Get involved
Join the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air.
Donate Now.