I’ve got a really fun quilt pattern for you at the end of this post but first a little background:
Last summer I wrote about my lifelong struggles with asthma and a number of loved ones who suffer from or who have died from respiratory illnesses. On a good day, I can ride 100 miles on my bike. On a bad day, I can’t finish a sentence without gasping for breath. I’m not alone. According to the CDC, in the US one child in ten has asthma. We adults with asthma number 16.4 million. In Chicago for the past 104 years, our advocate for clean air, smoke-free environments and lung health has been the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC). Bill and I started fundraising for RHAMC after his mom died of COPD in 1999. His dad also died young of tobacco-related illness.
RHAMC is a particularly important voice in Chicago, which has the highest incidence of asthma in the US. In Chicago one in four African-American and Puerto Rican children has asthma. The asthma hospitalization rate is double the national average. My doctor did her residency in a children’s hospital here and treated kids who spend 20 days of every month in the hospital because their asthma is so severe. The children attend school inside the hospital because their illness is so debilitating. Most of these children are from low-income families and they have few voices to advocate for them and lobby for cleaner air that will improve their health. Asthma doesn’t get a lot of funding compared with say, breast cancer or heart disease yet it is the number one reason that children miss school. That’s why RHAMC’s work is near and dear, not just to my heart, but to my lungs!
In 2000, Bill and I began doing CowaLUNGa, a 190-mile fundraising bike ride organized by RHAMC from Illinois to Wisconsin. There’s a tag on the bag of my bike that reads “Wheezy Rider” because I always think that I’m riding for all who can’t. This year, for the first time, our 9-year old daughter will be joining us on the ride. She asked to start training last September and has worked up to riding three 50-60 mile rides in the past six weeks on the back of our tandem with Bill. We plan to ride two of the three days for a total of over 130 miles. The ride is August 7-9.
Each year we also make and donate a quilt for the Cowalunga raffle. This year I’d like to see if we can use this quilt pattern to raise a few dollars for cleaner air, smoking cessation programs for those who need them and research and advocacy for those of us that struggle to be able to take a deep breath.
So here’s how it works: I developed this pattern that I’m offering as a download with the hope that you’ll make a small donation to RHAMC. You can give $3 or $5 or whatever works for you. Every single dollar is appreciated. I can see from my blog stats that thousands of people have downloaded our free patterns in the past. If we could get each of those people to donate a buck or two to RHAMC, that would be a huge amount of money.
To donate click here, which will take you to my secure CowaLUNGa fundraising page. The fundraising link will remain active through October 2010. Make a donation and then return and download the pdf of the “Deep Breath” quilt. The pattern is fast and fun to whip up and can be made from scraps in a day.
Last year I blogged about tying names onto my bike rack of people whose lives were affected by lung disease. I plan to do the same this year. Many of you shared touching stories of you or your loved ones who are fellow asthmatics, lung cancer or COPD sufferers or smokers struggling to quit. “I’d love for my dad to go on your ride with you,” wrote one reader as she sent me his name. I thought about those stories as I climbed those steep Wisconsin hills. You inspired me and I’d love to do it again. So even if you can’t make a donation, please share your story and send me the name of anyone you’d like me to take on our ride. I’ll post pictures after the ride.
Weeks aka Wheezy Rider