2013 Successes

We reached many goals in the 2013 with help from our partners and the community. We are proud of our accomplishments and thank everyone for your continued support.

1. Asthma programs expand, educate about lung health

Through our asthma curriculum, we have taught tens of thousands of community members how to manage asthma through the correct use of medications, avoidance of asthma triggers and proper responses to asthma emergencies.

In 2013, through our Fight Asthma Now® curriculum, we taught these skills to more than 1,000 students in Chicago and southern Cook County Schools. We also taught more than 3,000 teachers, parents and caregivers with our adult curriculum, Asthma Management. A special thanks to the Polk Bros. Foundation and the Aileen S. Andrew Foundation for their grant support.

Thanks in part to a grant from Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County, in 2013, we expanded our asthma programming to Lake County, where children experience asthma at a higher rate than the national average. Our Fight Asthma Now and Asthma Management programs educated nearly 400 children and adults during our first year in Northern Lake County.

Asthma education is vital for children and adults - well-managed asthma leads to better health outcomes, fewer missed school days and a reduced number of emergency room visits.

2. Innovative research advances lung health

We continue to fund innovative research with our partners at major institutions. We are currently funding four researchers who are studying lung cancer, COPD and other issues related to breathing at University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago and U.S. Naval Hospital.

In August, we announced a lung cancer research award to Dr. Ravi Salgia at University of Chicago Medical Center. Dr. Salgia is studying a potential therapeutic target for treating lung cancer, which remains the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the United States.

We are proud to be part of several working groups with local researchers examining research collaboratives that will advance lung disease treatments and the care of people living with lung disease.

3. Program for COPD patients celebrates 10-year anniversary

In November, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our Living Better with COPD Conference, one of several programs that have helped us become a leader in COPD education and advocacy. At the conference, 300 people living with COPD and their caregivers joined us to learn about COPD, which affects an estimated 1.2 million people in Illinois. Conference speakers discussed the importance of managing COPD, the benefits of exercise and pulmonary rehab, and the significance of lung health advocacy.

Many of the conference attendees also participate in our annual Cruising with COPD event in June, a social event where more than 500 people with COPD enjoy a day on Lake Michigan with others who share similar experiences. The cruise is the largest event for COPD patients in the United States.

4. Courage to Quit program brings success to no-smoking policies

In recent years, Respiratory Health Association worked with the Chicago Park District to adopt a smoke-free beaches and playlots policy. Recently, the Chicago Park District expanded that policy to include no smoking in all Chicago Park District facilities and vehicles. In an effort to meet the needs of Park District Staff seeking help in quitting smoking, Respiratory Health Association expanded its work with the Park District to include Courage to Quit® smoking cessation classes on-site at multiple Park District locations.

Courage to Quit® is a comprehensive tobacco treatment program for adults developed by us. Studies show counseling can significantly increase a person's chance of success when quitting. Program leaders provide information, practice skills, and support to help attendees reach and maintain their smoke-free goals.

5. COPD community advocates for more support in Congress

The COPD patient community in Illinois has recruited more advocates in Washington, D.C. As a result of letters and visits from Respiratory Health Association volunteers, two more members of Congress have agreed to serve as members of the U.S. Congressional COPD Caucus. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos and Congressman Danny Davis now serve on the Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers working together to push for COPD awareness and promote policies to improve the lives of COPD patients.

Thanks to our COPD advocates for making their voices heard!

6. More college campuses reduce exposures to secondhand smoke

Respiratory Health Association helped secure two more partners in our efforts to reduce secondhand smoke exposure on college campuses in Illinois. As of July 1, University of Illinois at Chicago became a tobacco-free campus (prohibiting use of all tobacco products outdoors on school property). On January 1, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will become a smoke-free campus (prohibiting smoking outdoors on school property).

Previously, Respiratory Health Association assisted Roosevelt University, Robert Morris University and the City Colleges of Chicago in becoming smoke-free campuses. In all, Respiratory Health Association has helped provide healthier learning environments for more than 200,000 students and staff at Illinois colleges and universities.

According to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, smoke-free and tobacco-free college campus policies lead to substantial reductions in the number of people who smoke. They also decrease the number of people who are exposed to environmental tobacco hazards and eliminate cigarette butts and other related litter on campus. Smoke-free higher education campuses promote a safe, clean and healthy learning environment for students, visitors and employees.

7. Patient advocacy leaders convened at local summit

Sharing of best practices in patient advocacy is important to Respiratory Health Association's advocacy success. In October, we hosted a Regional Patient Advocacy Leaders Summit in Chicago titled "Health Insurance Marketplaces, Essential Benefits and Chronic Disease: Enhancing Advocacy Strategies." At the Summit, 60 advocacy leaders from across the region attended and took advantage of the opportunity to discuss a broad scope of patient advocacy issues. Speakers focused on chronic disease prevention and treatment, and discussed strategies related to a variety of issues, including tools and tactics to engage community advocates and improving health outcomes by creating community linkages to services.

Special thanks to our partners at EverThrive Illinois (formerly the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition), Illinois Public Health Institute and National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Chicago, for their help with the Summit.

8. Special fundraising events raise record support for our work

In 2013, our special fundraising events raised record support for our lung disease research and programs. In February, more than 4,000 people climbed in Hustle Up the Hancock, and raised nearly $1.2 million, our second highest fundraising amount during the stair climb's 16-year history. In November, general registration for the 2014 full climb sold out in 1 hour and 7 minutes.

For seven years, we have been a charity beneficiary and silent auction host at LuxeHome's CHILL event. CHILL is held every November in Merchandise Mart's LuxeHome Design Suites. Guests enjoy international wines paired with culinary selections by Chicago's top chefs. This year, we raised more than $100,000, a record amount of support, through ticket sales, our silent auction and wine raffle, and donations.

Other events include Skyline Plunge! Chicago, the city's only urban rappel held twice a year in May and September. This August marks the 18th annual CowaLUNGa Bike Tour. Visit lungchicago.org/special-events for more information.

9. Agreement on diesel soot will reduce pollution in Englewood

In October, along with our clean air partners, we successfully negotiated a deal to improve air quality and reduce diesel soot pollution in Englewood. The victory occurred at the site of a newly expanded intermodal transportation rail yard that would otherwise have greatly increased air pollution in and around Englewood. The agreement with Norfolk Southern Railroad includes diesel pollution reductions, expansion of green spaces, new sustainability initiatives and job training for local residents. Norfolk Southern will also install soot pollution controls on 12 pieces of diesel-powered equipment and 36 of the 38 trucks in the rail yard, or convert them to other cleaner or zero-emission technologies. This success was a joint effort among Respiratory Health Association, City of Chicago, our community partners, legal advocates and all of our supporters who stood up for clean air.

10. Radon program reaches hundreds

In 2013, Respiratory Health Association received funding from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to help prevent radon-related lung cancer. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas and the second leading cause of lung cancer. In its first year, our program educators have reached more than 290 people and distributed more than 250 test kits for individuals to test their homes for the radioactive gas.

Among those educated, more than 125 were representatives from daycare homes and centers. Illinois law now requires daycares to test for radon every three years, and our program provides many home daycare centers with the means to comply with the new law.