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. To learn more about becoming a state captain in your area please email statecaptains@copdfoundation.org.


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Kandy Blankartz

Kandy Blankartz Profile Photo Mobridge, South Dakota
kblankartz@gmail.com

My family has a very strong history of asthma back to my great grandfather, my dad, me, my two girls, my sister’s boy and now it's starting on some my grandchildren. I almost lost my oldest daughter in her junior year of high school. She went into a respiratory arrest and was so close to dying. She went on to get her RT Degree and her RN Degree. I want to bring the awareness of COPD to the public.

As State Captain I hope to effectively advocate about lung disease.

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Patti Gilpin

Patti Gilpin Profile Photo Louisville, Kentucky
patti.gilpin@nortonhealthcare.org

As a respiratory therapist and State Captain of Kentucky, I hope to accomplish raising awareness about COPD within our communities and to educate people about testing, treatment options and lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life.

As a COPD advocate, I have written about COPD in a newspaper, magazine, or other publication, and I have sent a letter to my members of Congress about COPD. I have also participated in health fairs or community events to promote COPD awareness.

As a State Captain, I hope to connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives, and raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events. I would also like to host and participate in fundraisers to support my community.

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Eddie High

Eddie High Profile Photo Starkville, MS
ehigh@och.org

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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Lisa Melvin

Lisa Melvin Profile Photo Fayetteville, North Carolina
lsmelvin2@icloud.com

As State Captain I hope to bring awareness to my community as well as my state.

It is important to me because I have chronic asthma, my brother has asthma, and my mother had emphysema which she passed away from in 2014. So, raising awareness and educating people about COPD is something that is important on a very personal level. There are so many things that people take for granted – breathing is one of them. Most people don’t realize how little things can really impact their health and we can help them by encouraging people to get educated and be proactive about their health.

There is a lot of life left to live and a lot left to learn. COPD may slow you down, but it doesn’t have to stop you. Reach out to others who are experiencing the same thing so you can help each other through difficult circumstances.

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Phyliss DiLorenzo

Phyliss DiLorenzo Profile Photo Brooklyn, NY
phyliss@dilorenzo.com

My name is Phyliss DiLorenzo. I live in Brooklyn; New York and I was diagnosed with COPD four years ago. I had earlier symptoms that I put off to getting older and being out of shape.

I quit smoking 5 months before my diagnosis. I am do glad that I did! What brought me to be diagnosed was pneumonia.

I saw my PCP, who sent me for an X-Ray. It was then I was told I have emphysema and battling a pneumonia infection and was given a rescue inhaler and medication.

Throughout that first year, I was short of breath on a daily basis. I received a nebulizer and another rescue inhaler. All of these were short acting bronchodilators, or SABAS, which gave only temporary relief and didn’t help against exacerbations. I was treated in hospital 5 times, for bronchitis, flu, and exacerbations from other respiratory infections.

After a particularly severe exacerbation, hospitalized for 3 days, most time on a BiPAP machine, my PCP referred me to a pulmonologist. I took a PFT (pulmonary function test) and was given a prescription for a long-acting bronchodilator, or LABA, and an emergency action plan.

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Yvonne Gamelin

Yvonne Gamelin Profile Photo Roxbury, Connecticut
connecticut03@copdfoundation.org

As State Captain I hope to build awareness and collaborate with pulmonary rehab, pulmonologists, colleges, and EMS to increase access to health and raise political awareness as well.

Some of my advocacy work includes speaking at the 2017 Readmissions Summit and the Advisory Board. I have also met with Senator Gail Slossberg and work with nursing and respiratory therapist schools to help develop events and education.

My inspiration to share is, wellness maintained is quality of life lived!

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Madison Musick

Madison Musick Profile Photo Tampa, FL
Mrubymusick@gmail.com

As a caregiver, and the newest State Captain from Florida, I hope to accomplish educating people on COPD and improving those patients lives who already have been diagnosed with COPD. I want to educate kids early on of the dangers of smoking and the consequences of it later on. Also to bring attention to the issue, many people I go to college with don't know what COPD is or how serious it is.

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, writing about COPD to share my story and help raise awareness, and raising awareness by participating in health fairs and community events. I would also like to help to recruit new State Captains and volunteers, and host and participate in fundraisers to support my community.

My proudest COPD moment was helping my mom quit smoking and helping her to exercise more regularly to improve her breathing.

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Linda Mullin

Linda Mullin Profile Photo Princeton, West Virginia
lrmullin@hotmail.com

As an Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Defeciency/ COPD’er, it is important to get the word out about these diseases. The leaders of our state and nation have an impact on how chronic health issues are being handled. Letting officials know our current status by speaking up will hopefully help our communities in the fight for breathe. MY LIFE IS WORTHWHILE, AND SO IS YOURS! Speak up or you are never heard. The silence of voices: “A person dies in the United States every four minutes from COPD---the third largest killer.”

As State Captain I hope to raise awareness for COPD and Alpha-1 in my state, letting every individual know they are not alone.

My proudest COPD moment is helping others. Not proud for myself but of them in learning more to make their lives better. Anxiety is the fear of the unknown. Knowledge is the key factor in unlocking that fear through understand.

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Adrian McDonald

Adrian McDonald Profile Photo Marietta, GA
inhale.exhale.move@gmail.com

My name is Adrian McDonald, and I became a Georgia Registered Respiratory Therapist in 2010. I recognized early in my career that I had a very strong desire to improve the lives of my patients, and have always operated in a manner above and beyond the standard of care. The frustration I felt during my early years came from seeing a lot of the same patients repeatedly, and feeling like there was more needing to be done to help with no clue how to do so.

It wasn't until I became a Clinical Specialist for the InCourage Vest system in 2016 that opened the doors for helping people stay out of the hospital system through education and awareness of providers and their staff. With each discussion and presentation, I quickly realized the magnitude of just how much work still needs to be done to ensure our patients are diagnosed accurately, earlier, and fully informed while given everything they need to ensure the best quality of life possible.

My life has since become dedicated to making each of those a reality for the millions of respiratory patients that need our help, and have discovered many platforms that I can volunteer my expertise, time, and support for the greater good of pulmonary patients.

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David Thompson

David Thompson Profile Photo Deland, FL
dltmat143@gmail.com

As a respiratory therapist and COPD Educator, I am thrilled to join COPD Foundation as a State Captain for Florida.As a State Captain, I hope to organize and promote regional hospitals to accept and engage the COPD Action Plan. I look forward to partnering with the Florida COPD Coalition Coordinator Bob Sobkowiak. Hope to assist Bob in promoting a great program, “COPD Breathe Strong Florida Initiative”.

As a COPD advocate I have met, called, and emailed my elected officials. Additionally, I have written about COPD in my local newspaper, and have hosted two consecutive COPD Health Fairs on COPD World Day in November at my hospital. I present a COPD Educational table distributing Many COPD Foundation EDUCATIONAL materials at all local health fairs and Church related functions. We always perform free spirometry. I have lectured at local health institutions and community awareness venues. In November 2016, I sponsored my first COPD golf tournament and donated $2,600 to our Hospital Foundation. I facilitate a COPD Support Group numbering above 30 members. We have adopted a name and are now known as The West Volusia “OXYGEN-AIR-IANS”.

As a State Captain, I am looking forward to recruiting new State Captains and volunteers, hosting and participating in fundraisers, as well as working with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy.

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Pamela Plasch

Pamela Plasch Profile Photo Grantsburg, Wisconsin
Wisconsin07@copdfoundation.org

As the newest State Captain for Wisconsin, I hope to accomplish bringing awareness to our rural communities about COPD and to give COPD patients hope with accurate information about treatment for this disease to show them that we can still lead a happy and productive life. I would like to hold health fairs in our hospitals, clinics, and possibly in our local gyms to spread awareness and information.I would also like to see if I can raise awareness to Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies about what is needed for COPD patients with the hope that we can provide the care and medications for all patients with COPD.

As a COPD advocate, I have created an active Facebook COPD support group in 2015 with over 7,200 members. I have also emailed my elected officials, sent a letter to my members of Congress about COPD, am a member of a support group, and have spoken to my family and friends about COPD.

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, as well as working with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy. I would also like to raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events, participate and promote research opportunities to help find a cure, and write about COPD to share my story and help raise awareness.

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Jeremy Fulmer

Jeremy Fulmer Profile Photo Bloomsburg, PA
jrfulmer@geisinger.edu

Our respiratory therapy department is so excited to become group State Captains for Pennsylvania. As a department, and State Captains, we would like to accomplish being a resource and affiliate for the community.

As COPD advocates, we have participated in speaking to our friends and family about COPD, signing up for 360Social, and have engaged in health fairs or community events to promote COPD awareness. We have also emailed our elected officials, and participated in a COPD support group.

As State Captains, we are most interested in Raising awareness by participating in health fairs and community events, and Connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives. We would also like to Host and participate in fundraisers to support my community

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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 statecaptains@copdfoundation.org for questions and to start the onboarding process today!