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

Pat Billeb

Pat Billeb Profile Photo Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Let me introduce myself to you. My name is Patricia Billeb - I prefer people calling me Pat. I am a wife, mother and grandmother. I was diagnosed with COPD in 2011. I think I had an inkling that I had it, however, I was in denial until I was hospitalized. Here's the kicker - I quit smoking a week before I was diagnosed. Probably couldn't take another breath.

I had an excellent pulmonologist with a very caring nurse. I got stable and went through Pulmonary Rehab and embraced it with open arms. Through Rehab I was given copies of the Pulmonary Paper magazine and started googling everything. I got connected with a group known as EFFORTS. I was a regular member of the "walkers" window. One of the friends I made was Jean Rommes - she was holding a Lung Expo in Des Moines and I went. I was so excited about the Lung Expo - the Efforts group that my Pulmonary Rehab counselor asked if I would represent Efforts as a COPD booth. I have done that for the last four years. Last year I took along PPRN handouts to the WISCHPR Conference and have been asked to bring COPD Foundation information with handouts in 2018 - which will be held in Oshkosh.

In 2017, I had the privilege to attend COPD10 in Chicago. I'd been trying for a few years to coordinate the other COPD Conferences in Chicago - This year it worked out. I was totally blown away. I asked for doubles on the handouts to give one set to my Pulmonologist/Nurse and one for myself. My Pulmonologist was killed that year in a car accident, so the handout went to my new doctor.

I was so revved up that I started searching Better Breathers again in my area. There was one at one time near me. I went for about 5 meetings and then it just disappeared. Online I found a Lung Expo in my old city where I lived, Brookfield, WI. I contacted them right away to sign up. The person I had talked to had never heard of the COPD Foundation, so I sent them my second set of information. They were delighted to get it and encouraged me to invite anyone and everyone. I sent an announcement in the COPD 360 and the Efforts distribution.

I get charged and hopeful when I go to the conferences. It works for me - As a State Captain - I'd like to light the fire for those who are looking for hope as well!

Thanks for reading - Pat Billeb


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!