Meet Your State Advocacy Captains!

State Captains are volunteers with COPD, caregivers, friends and family members or healthcare providers who use their contacts and talents and partner with the COPD Foundation to serve as state and community leaders.

Captains promote the importance of becoming a part of the COPD community. They work to spread COPD awareness in their state and local areas, mentor fellow COPD community members, and participate in online and in-person grassroots advocacy and community building activities focused on health policy issues that are important to those who have COPD. If you are interested in joining our group of volunteers, click here.

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Rickie Daniels

Rickie Daniels Profile Photo Fredericksburg, Virginia

I have been a COPD patient for a number of years and was encouraged to meet with our local lung disease support group shortly after my diagnosis. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with everyone.

As time went by our group leader became seriously ill, and she asked that I take over her job. With great reservation I picked the reins and haven’t looked back. We have monthly meetings and two socials a year. We’re always on the lookout for speakers to bring new ideas and the latest industry items to preview. My biggest hope for my members is that they will "BE THEIR OWN BEST ADVOCATE", never to sit back and wait for things to happen. My biggest worry is that patients are given oxygen tanks and sent on their way without hope, education or encouragement. Some of our meetings include representatives from our Congressional District office, leaders from our local DME providers, and RTs from the local hospitals.

My favorite saying is "Never say Never" – The year prior to COVID our hospital Navigator organized a COPD Day at the hospital. Many booths from various trades were present and our booth was in the center of it all. It was a very enjoyable day. During COVID I hosted a monthly ZOOM meeting which was great fun.

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Mary Ellen O’Rourke

Mary Ellen O’Rourke Profile Photo Naperville, Illinois
0rourke616@gmail .com

Greetings! My name is Mary Ellen O' Rourke . I have been happily married for 50 years to my husband, Rick. I have three married daughters and 11 grandchildren so far! I have lived in Naperville, Illinois area for 40 years.

I believe that I would be a good State Captain in Naperville because I relate well to all kinds of people and have never met a stranger. I have run discussion groups with all kinds of groups. I want to encourage people to take advantage of all the opportunities this Foundation has to offer to them with a positive outlook.

I was diagnosed with severe COPD 6 years ago, yet I never smoked! My doctors never discussed COPD with me. Fortunately, I stumbled on this COPD site and it was a godsend to me! The education on this site gives me information on types of medicines, and dealing with stress, as well as a network of COPD people who support me and each other through our journeys. I tell my family and friends about my limitations and now they are more patient with me.

I am interested in being a State Captain because I feel COPD is a silent passage for many of us. I want to share the good news that the Foundation provides. I want to encourage others with COPD to not feel alone. The COPD Foundation will empower those with COPD and their loved ones with new ways to live healthier and fuller lives. It is important for me to spread that good news about the COPD Foundation. I want to pay forward this gift to me. I am excited to be a part of such an excellent organization.

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Roshni Solomon

Roshni Solomon Profile Photo Unionville, CT

Greetings! My name is Roshni Solomon.

I am an energetic and cooperative high school student who would like to give back to the community.

My grandfather passed away from COPD/smoking few years ago. His passing showed me the severity of this illness and created this need for me to take action and help others that are going through this.

As I grow up, I see kids my age vaping. This is clearly a serious problem in my generation/age group. By vaping, those people are opening themselves up to the possible use of nicotine cigarettes, which would most definitely have detrimental effects on their health, I would like to talk to them about prevention and spread awareness in my community. As a State Captain, I would like to reach out to the kids in my community and make them aware of the deadly effect of smoking.

My favorite quote - and I follow this.

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples" - Mother Teresa

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Sheryl Martinez

Sheryl Martinez Profile Photo Shenandoah, Iowa

I'm Sheryl and am a COPD Foundation State Captain from Iowa. As a captain I hope to raise awareness and have fundraisers that will help with the prevention of COPD, and more importantly in finding a cure.

My main passion for being a captain is to let people know that stopping smoking, beginning to exercise, and eating healthy will help to give them a longer and more productive life. Also, keeping the most positive attitude possible will definitely help you accomplish those three things. I don't think most patients hear that those things will help their breathing and lives until later. Once they have progressed to that point it's really hard and they just don't have the energy to do them. However, I'm a firm believer that it is never too late to start.

I want you to know that I live with COPD, and spent some time being very sick -even to the point of nearly dying. But by quitting smoking, exercising, and eating healthy I have brought myself back from near death to an active and productive life. My goal is to accomplish important things in order to make the lives of COPD patients as easy as possible.

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Dr. Tabatha Dragonberry

Dr. Tabatha Dragonberry  Profile Photo Converse, Texas

Dr. Tabatha Dragonberry has been a respiratory therapist for over 15 years. She is a passionate educator teaching patients, students, and respiratory care professionals. Currently, she is an assistant professor at UT Health San Antonio and the Director of Online Education for the Degree Advancement Programs. She has worked in various environments including neonatal/pediatrics, adult critical and acute care, home care, and leadership.

As a State Captain for Texas, she wants to help educate and empower those with COPD and their families to live their fullest lives possible!

Her favorite quote is, “Save a life – you are a hero; Save 100 lives – you are an RT”- unknown

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Skyler Hughes

Skyler Hughes  Profile Photo Owensboro, Kentucky

My name is Skyler Hughes. I am the COPD/Sepsis Clinical Program Specialist at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. I am a registered nurse and have worked with COPD patients in multiple settings including the emergency department, case management and home health care and as a leader of our inpatient COPD program. I enjoy educating and serving patients to provide them with the knowledge and resources they need to live a fulfilling life. Outside of work, I am a wife, step-mom to an amazing growing boy, and fur-momma to a rambunctious dog and cat. My family is my biggest blessing in life. I love to spend time with friends and I am a huge fan of classic country music.

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Melissa Egts

Melissa Egts Profile Photo Stow, OH

As State Captain, I believe there is no limit to the value of the voice of the COPD patient and that the care the patient receives should not be limited by geography, race, or income. I am most interested in advocacy and education. My goals as an Ohio state captain are to help people with COPD cope with a diagnosis, learn how to care for themselves, and help their loved ones understand the COPD patient's journey and enjoy a full life.

As a State Captain, I aim to be a driver of change within my local, state, and national communities. I am most interested in helping people living with COPD access resources available to them so they can live healthier, fuller lives. I believe raising awareness of COPD by participating in advocacy on the state and national levels is very important. I am always ready to lend a compassionate ear via COPD360social.

My proudest COPD moment was joining the COPD Foundation as Ohio State Captain. It’s the decision to act and move the cause forward that is most inspiring as is the power of the human spirit to persevere, improve, and care about others more than themselves.

My motto is short, sweet, and stolen from my dear husband, David: "You answer to the name you call yourself." Call yourself a volunteer - and you help others. Call yourself active - and you get on the treadmill. Call yourself happy - and you are grateful every day.

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Nancy Robinson

Nancy Robinson Profile Photo Baltimore, MD

As a licensed clinical social worker, I recently completed2+ years working on a clinical trial for COPD patients and caregivers about the role of peer support in the management of COPD.

I hope to participate in research activities as a State Captain and connect others in the COPD community with the resources necessary to lead healthier and fuller lives.

I would also like to focus on issues that are important to caregivers, as they have separate and unique challenges to learn about the condition, to advocate for their loved one, and to take an important role in assisting health care professionals.

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Eddie High

Eddie High Profile Photo Starkville, MS

As a respiratory therapist and the newest state captain from Mississippi, I hope to accomplish increasing the public' awareness of COPD and the resources that are available to help them control their symptoms and disease progression Unfortunately, too many COPDers don't even know they have the disease. They are unaware of what they can do to control their symptoms and manage their disease progression. I hope to change that and make them aware of all the resources that are available to them.

As a COPD advocate,I have written many articles for local newspapers, and magazines. I have appeared on local television and participated in local health fairs and community events. I have sent letters to my members of Congress. I have joined COPD360Social, participated in the COPD Foundations Praxis section and have spoken to Mississippi health leaders about COPD. I have spoken to other health care providers numerous times at educational seminars.

As a State Captain, I am interested in connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives, and writing about COPD to share my story and help raise awareness. I would also like to raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events, and work with pharmaceutical company(s) to improve access to medications for those that can't afford them.

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Marlyce Campbell

Marlyce Campbell Profile Photo Wakeeney, KS

As a respiratory therapist and a State Captain from Kansas, I hope to accomplish helping people understand how to live with COPD and to maximize medication, actives and daily living to their fullest.

As a COPD advocate, I have sent a letter to my members of Congress about COPD and I have participated in health fairs and community events to promote COPD awareness.

As a State Captain, I am most interested in connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives, raising awareness by participating in health fairs and community events, and working with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy.

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Eddie Fisher

Eddie Fisher Profile Photo Apopka, FL

As a former caregiver, and the newest State Captain for Florida, I hope to accomplish educating everyone that I can reach about COPD & the steps to prevent/live with COPD. I want to teach others about the ongoing research being done today for the people of tomorrow facing this challenge.

As a State Captain, I am most interested in connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives, and working with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy. I would also like to participate and promote research opportunities to help find a cure, and raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events.

My proudest COPD moment has been having the most incredible Dad in the world and watching him face the challenge of COPD to the best of his ability. Seeing Dad grow closer to God because of it is ingrained in my heart forever.

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Tom Fleming

Tom Fleming Profile Photo Mahwah, NJ

I lost my favorite Aunt and my Godmother to COPD. She suffered quietly for years without telling a soul about COPD. I want people to know it is ok to tell your loved ones and at the end of the day they don’t need to be embarrassed about their condition. I want people to know that their family will accept them for who they are and support them. Simply put, families help each other.

After becoming aware of COPD, I became interested in knowing more and investigating how I could help. As a State Captain I hope to make calls to state and federal officials on behalf of patients and caregivers, raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events and host and participate in fundraisers to support my community and the COPD Foundation.

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COPD Foundation State Captain Program Informational Video

The COPD Foundation is looking for new State Captains to join our community to be champions for promoting COPD awareness, improving quality of life for those with COPD, to participate in research opportunities, policy, and much more. Email for questions and to start the onboarding process today!