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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Caroline Gainer

Caroline Gainer Profile Photo Daniels, West Virginia
ctgainer@suddenlink.net

As the newest State Captain from West Virginia, I hope to help elevate the care for COPD patients in my community and create public awareness of the disease. I hope to get elected officials to take actions that will promote the well-being of local COPD patients.

As a COPD advocate, I have met, called, sent letters and emailed my elected officials. Additionally, I have participated in COPD research opportunities such as the COPD PPRN, have signed up for COPD360Social, and have spoken to my family and friends about COPD.

As a State Captain, my interests include participating and promoting research opportunities to help find a cure and connecting others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier and fuller lives. I am also interested in working with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD Policy.

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Orlan Holmes

Orlan Holmes Profile Photo Fort Wayne, Indiana
orlanholmes@yahoo.com

I was diagnosed with COPD in 2003 and I was sent home to die. After a few years of living with the disease, I quit smoking. After I had quit smoking for over a year, my pulmonologists asked me if I would be interested in trying to get a double lung transplant. I was very interested. It took me over a year to get on the list and I waited for 3 years to get my new lungs. I received a double lung transplant on August 3rd, 2012. I have been thru a lot in the past few years and since I have received the gift of life, I am trying to make it count for something.

As a COPD advocate i speak at medical colleges and health fairs. I have traveled to Washington, DC with the Alpha-1 Foundation meeting with the FDA.

As State Captain I hope to make at least one person’s life better through education and awareness. This gives them hope and makes me feel good.

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LeAnn Boyce

LeAnn Boyce Profile Photo Prosper, Texas
elkybo1@aol.com

As a research assistant, and the newest State Captain for Texas, I want to improve the quality of life for COPD patients by working and promoting research for this disease. It is important to raise awareness and empower people with COPD to reduce the burden of the disease. The earlier COPD is diagnosed, the sooner patients can use the credible resources to improve their quality of life.

As a COPD advocate, I have signed up for COPD360Social, emailed my elected official, and have educated many patients 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 and participating and promoting research opportunities to help find a cure.

My proudest COPD moment has been working with many patients, as a respiratory therapist. Many patients were relieved to see a happy face entering their room or home. Being able to bring hope and encouragement was just as rewarding to me as it was to the patients.

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April Barrow

April Barrow Profile Photo Cedartown, GA
anbarrow29@gmail.com

As a respiratory therapist and the newest State Captain for Georgia, I hope to accomplish bringing more awareness and education about COPD and helping others. I have been a RRT for 17 1/2 years. I work in pulmonary rehab and also still work in the hospital.

As a State Captain I hope to connect others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives, as well as to 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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Bonnie Truelsen

Bonnie Truelsen Profile Photo Evanston, IL
true6961752@gmail.com

Hello, I am a COPD Foundation State Captain from Evanston, Illinois. I am passionate about educating people with COPD to help them live life to the fullest. I also believe that most people don’t have the information they need to make good choices to manage their COPD symptoms, but I am working hard to change that.

Some of my local work has been in advocacy activities in my community and I have also signed up for research activities through the COPD Foundation’s Patient Powered Research Network (PPRN). I am also very active with volunteer work at my hospital’s Pulmonary Rehab. This is just one place where I work to achieve my goal of bringing knowledge and education not only to those living with COPD, but also their caregivers.

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Shelly Webb

Shelly Webb Profile Photo Mcconnelsville, OH
shellykwebb@gmail.com

As a patient advocate, and the newest State Captain for Ohio, I am interested in accomplishing helping to educate those who do not know so much about the disease. Also, mostly I want to let others know they are not alone in this. Receiving a COPD diagnosis can be scary. We are here to help with understanding and coping with an initial diagnosis and the disease.

As a COPD advocate, I have I spoke to my family and friends about COPD, and I am a member of a support group.

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.

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Lisa Ellison

Lisa Ellison Profile Photo Sitka, AK
lisae@searhc.org

As a respiratory therapist and Alaska’s first State Captain, I hope to advocate for the COPD community by recruiting volunteers and new state captains. Alaska is a large state with many different communities and cultures. My experience as a respiratory therapist in Alaska will enable me to promote awareness among our state legislators, healthcare professionals, and patients.

As a COPD advocate, I currently live on an island in southeast Alaska and see the need for promoting COPD education with an emphasis on COPD Patient Action Plans. In our remote villages, when a COPD exacerbation occurs, many times the patient is medically flown out to a larger city for a higher-level of care. By encouraging early diagnosis, education, and treatment, this will have a potential impact on the state of Alaska by decreasing air transfers, earlier tobacco cessation, decreased hospital admissions, and reduction of patient care costs.

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David Reynolds

David Reynolds Profile Photo Masonville, New York
newyork19@copdfoundation.org

As a State Captain for New York, I would like to accomplish spreading awareness about COPD and helping to prevent unnecessary Emergency Department visits and unnecessary doctor visits in collaboration with DSRIP group Care Compass.

As a COPD advocate and respiratory therapist, I have facilitated two Breathing Better Support Groups, I have participated in health fairs or community events to promote COPD awareness and I have signed up for COPD360Social. I have also emailed, called, and have met with my elected officials.

As a State Captain, I am interested in collaborating with DSRIP group to more effectively mentor COPD patients, recruit new State Captains and volunteers, and participate in research opportunities to help find a cure. I would also like to connect others in the COPD community to the resources available so they can live healthier, fuller lives, and work with state, local, and national officials to improve COPD policy.

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Suzan Michelle Collins BSRT, RRT

Suzan Michelle Collins BSRT, RRT Profile Photo Phippsburg, Maine
maine@copdfoundation.org

Over my 25 years in healthcare, I have seen the struggles of COPD patients on many levels from the inability to access needed medication, lack of family support, impact from repeated hospitalizations and the overall feeling of fear and hopelessness.

As State Captain I hope to increase awareness; create a community of volunteers to aid in creating and maintaining a community for those with COPD; have self-sustaining harmonicas for health programs across the state of Maine; assist medical communities with establishing and maintaining a COPD case management plan; assist with advocating for the COPD community on a local and national level; assist medical facilities with developing and maintaining Alpha-1 screening and education; participate in health fairs and offer screening and teaching/instruction about COPD and Alpha-1; create a system that identifies people with COPD at earlier stages in the disease process and assist each person with COPD with having a better quality of life.

My proudest COPD moment was when a wife said that she wanted to pay for two other people to be able to participate in the Harmonicas for Health program because of the tremendous difference she saw in her husband just after two weeks of participating in the program.

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Caroline Zeigler

Caroline Zeigler Profile Photo The Dalles, Oregon
rz@gorge.net

As a COPD patient advocate, and State Captain from Oregon, I hope to accomplish helping to raise awareness about COPD and contribute to the COPD community by participating and volunteering. My hope is to help others who are impacted by COPD through education and information that can improve their quality of life.

As a COPD advocate, I have spoken to my family and friends about COPD, sent letters to my members of Congress about COPD, and have participated in COPD research opportunities such as the COPD PPRN.

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 in 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 help raise awareness by participating in health fairs and community events.

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Janice Cotton

Janice Cotton Profile Photo Shiloh, Illinois
gentlejan6@yahoo.com

Advocating for COPD has been one of my greatest passions. I want other COPDers to know that there are always eyes and ears looking out for their best interest. Resources are available and each of us needs to know how to access them.

I am passionate about research and what is available to the COPD community. I have participated with lobby days on Capitol Hill, bringing awareness to all government officials.

I have many proud moments with the COPD Foundation. One of my proudest is being asked by John Walsh to be a PPRN (Patient Powered Research Network) governing board member.

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Karen Deitemeyer

Karen Deitemeyer Profile Photo Melbourne, Florida
kdeit1946@yahoo.com

I’m a COPD Advocate because I have COPD and want to help make a difference for the 30 million Americans with COPD. When I was growing up, it was considered “cool” to smoke cigarettes – we now know the dangers and many of us are living with COPD as a result. I want to bring awareness to the many who still use tobacco products and to the youth who may be tempted to start. And recently I’ve become aware of the many youth who believe that vaping isn’t dangerous – but it is, as we are beginning to learn.

As an Advocate I hope to educate Congress about our COPD Community and what we need and as a State Captain I hope to have made a difference in the lives of others diagnosed with COPD by showing them that it is possible to live well with COPD. I hope to be successful in encouraging others to join the COPD PPRN so that one day there will be a cure. My proudest COPD moment was being honored with the COPD Advocacy Award in New York City on November 2nd, 2017. And a close runner-up was sharing my story at a Congressional Briefing in Washington, DC.

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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!