LUMBERTON — Last year, two Southeastern Health co-workers, Melanie McKee and Stephanie Smith, helped organize an event designed to raise awareness and funds to assist Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, patients. Their involvement was in memory of their fathers, who both experienced COPD, a family of lung diseases that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
The event will continue this year with some adjustments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Every Breath Counts COPD 5K Run will be held in a virtual format on Nov. 7. The fee to participate is $25, which includes a race T-shirt. Medals will be given to the top three overall winners for both male and female participants and in each age category. A Walk, Run, Fundraise Walk-a-thon will be held throughout the month of November. Participants will be entered into a raffle based on the number of miles they track and the dollars they raise for COPD. Winners will be recognized in multiple categories.
To register for either initiatives, visit https://runsignup.com/everybreathcounts. The website also offers opportunities to buy long-sleeve T-shirts, raffle tickets and to sign up for sponsorship opportunities. Visitors to the site may also make donations and raise money in memory or honor of a loved one. All funds raised will expand education for COPD awareness through the Southeastern Health Foundation.
Vicky McLamb, 57, of Lumberton, plans to walk in this year’s COPD awareness event.
McLamb completed Southeastern Health’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program in November 2019 after being diagnosed with COPD and, later, pulmonary arterial hypertension, in 2018. She sought help for extreme shortness of breath, to the point she thought she had pneumonia. After being referred to a pulmonologist, she began receiving care for her condition and was referred to an eight-month cardiopulmonary rehab program.
After completing the program, McLamb went from using six liters of oxygen to only having oxygen on hand in the event of an emergency.
“I have only used maybe three minutes of oxygen since I finished the rehab program and that was because my doctor recommended it for a trip to the mountains,” McLamb said. “I only used it going up the steps at the hotel.”
Because her quality of life has improved so much since completing the program, McLamb shares her experience with anyone she encounters on oxygen, suggesting they ask their doctor about the program in the hopes that they can experience the success she has found.
“They recommended I keep up with my exercise, so I continue to go to the fitness center three days a week,” McLamb said. “When the fitness center closed due to COVID, I walked at home but have returned now that the fitness center has reopened.”
McLamb has found a renewed energy she didn’t have before her rehab program.
“Now I can’t sit still at work,” McLamb said. “I just want to get up and walk. I always want to be doing something.”
Anyone interested in more information about cardiopulmonary rehab can ask his or her doctor or call 910-738-5403.
For more information about the 5K race, call 910-738-5433. For information about overall COPD initiatives, call the Southeastern Health Foundation at 910-671-5583.
Amanda L. Crabtree is the Public Relations coordinator for Southeastern Health. She can be reached by calling 910-671-5499.