wheezy rider wants to ride for you!

better world, experiences, free patterns, just a thought, quilting


Have a seat. This is going to be a long one.

When I started Craft Nectar I didn’t want to blog about how many loads of laundry I had done that day or what I had for dinner. I wanted it to be about inspiring people to be creative. In that sense I decided that I would only write about my life within the context of making something that might be inspiring to my wonderful readers. In short, I wanted Craft Nectar to be about you, not about me.

So you may not know that I’m a lifelong asthmatic who cannot walk up a flight of stairs without daily medications. I grew up in the 1960s, which were still the Dark Ages of asthma care. I could not run 50 yards and I wheezed night and day. I spent a tremendous amount of my childhood at the doctor’s office. Life changed for me when I was 16 and a new medicine came out on the market. I started to exercise daily then and have never stopped.

Though sometimes sidelined by respiratory infections, I exercise an hour a day. You will never hear me complain about exercising. For me, being able to do an hour of kickboxing or spinning is a gift from researchers and other asthmatics who spent years developing medications that make it possible for me to live the active life I waited 16 years for. I am grateful to be able to exercise.

I’ve also watched a number of loved ones struggle with lung disease as a result of smoking. Both of Bill’s parents died way too young as a result of illnesses caused by smoking.

With this history Bill and I have long supported the efforts of the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (formerly the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago). They fund research for asthma, emphysema and other respiratory illnesses. They also offer smoking cessation programs for people who want to quit smoking and asthma camps for kids to learn how to manage their illness.


Every year they host a 3-day/190-mile bike ride called Cowalunga to raise money. It’s called Cowalunga because we ride through the dairy farms of Wisconsin and see a whole lot of cows along the way. Most years we’ve ridden all 190 miles but with a young child, sometimes it’s just been one 60-mile day of the ride. One year they asked me to speak to all of the riders and share with them what it’s been like to battle this disease every day of my life. I told them that they were my heroes. During Cowalunga, they attach a “fanny flag” to your bike with your “ride name” on it and I have them call me “Wheezy Rider.”

This year the ride begins on August 1 and I want to ride for all of those people who can’t. That’s where you come in. I am attaching to the rack on my bike strips of cloth with the names of people who struggle with lung disease and for those who are trying to quit smoking. As I ride I want to remember the names (first names only please). I’m also hoping to raise some money for lung disease research.

So here’s a link to my Cowalunga 2009 page. If you or someone you love are suffering from any lung disease or are trying to quit smoking, I, Wheezy Rider, want to ride for you! Send me those names and pledge a few bucks if you’re so inclined through their secure website. I’ll happily ride for you even if you don’t pledge. You can leave the names on my Cowalunga page or here.

In addition, we always make a simple quilt for RHAMC to offer as a raffle prize to the riders. As a thank you to you, here’s a free pattern of the quick and easy, bike-themed quilt we made for the raffle this year. Just click on the thumbnail below to download the pdf.


charity-quilt-pattern-thumbI decided to blog about my asthma because I think we’re all here to learn from each other. I’m living proof of how medical research and clean air laws can change a life. I’ve got lots of paying back to do. And if you or anyone you love is battling this disease too, I want you to know that I’m cheering you on in your fight.

Lastly, please be good to your body. It’s working hard for you and it’s the only one you get.

5 thoughts on “wheezy rider wants to ride for you!

  1. Elissa and Mike.
    Trying to quit smoking. Not for the first time, but hopefully for the last time.
    Thank you, for ALL that you do!

  2. Thanks so much for blogging about your asthma. I’m a cyclist, but I’ve been sidelined for the past seven months due to severe persistent asthma, and haven’t been able to get back on the bike due to a long string of respiratory infections. Your story is truly inspirational!

  3. Dear Weeks,

    Your story is wonderful! Never give up, and never let the doctors tell you that you cannot do something.

    I hope that you will add my father’s name to your bike, Donald Pokras. My father died 17 years ago from COPD, caused by scoliosis and kyphosis that were diagnosed when he was 5 months old. He was born premature – the doctors told my grandmother to take him home and care for him until he died. He lived. They said he would never survive childhood. He did. The doctors said it would be a miracle if he lived past 40. He lived to 68. Dad was never supposed to be able to work, have kids, exercise, etc. He worked as a chemist until his final illness, had me, and got a brown belt in judo. To keep up his lung capacity, he exercised every day with oxygen on a stationary bike and he took 4 nebulizer treatments a day (the Dark Ages, for sure!).

    I was diagnosed with asthma as an adult. I run because I can, and becuase it keeps me healthy. I run for him in races sometimes – but I’d love for him to go on a 62 mile ride.

    Good luck to you!


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