American Lung Association of the Plains Gulf Region


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July 2013

This edition of the Volunteer Vision is a special volunteer recognition edition in which the Volunteer of the Year from each of our regions will be spotlighted.


Birmingham - Leadership Council member Monica Stinson is always willing to help out. “I can't remember going to any American Lung Association function where Monica was not there serving or hadn't been in charge of something behind the scenes,” said Melissa Fortenberry, another member of the Leadership Council. “Monica is a great asset to the American Lung Association.” 




Little Rock - Florence Smith has stepped up on the Little Rock Leadership Council in a huge way. Because of this, she has motivated the rest of the Council as well. Florence is the first Council member to plan an i  lungs event; a golf tournament, which will take place later this year. Florence is always the first one to volunteer at Council meetings, and she encourages her fellow volunteers to do their best for the American Lung Association as well.

Florence goes above and beyond to work with others and spread the mission of the American Lung Association in Arkansas.



Kansas City - Courtney Lorenz has served on the Leadership Council in Kansas City for many years. She has been courtneyan integral part of creating our Fight for Air Climb since the very first one that was held in our market. She has chaired the Climb all the years we have had it except the inaugural year. This past year's Climb was held at a new venue, the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Courtney worked very hard and made all the difference in transitioning from a building Climb to one held in a stadium. The stadium format created many logistical challenges, but Courtney mastered all of them. Not only that, but she did the Climb herself with a team and was a leading fund raiser for the event. She attended all of the committee meetings and kept the energy level at an all-time high. Courtney is an experienced runner so she helped select the timing company and design the course for the climb. She worked hard to present the attendees with an alternative course for more experienced athletes and one for the beginner climbers. We had numerous folks take advantage of the 5K walk that Courtney added to the event. Courtney was instrumental to make sure our website clearly advertised the walking option for our event.  

Not only was Courtney a stellar Climb volunteer this year, she has also devoted years of service to the Leadership Council in Kansas City. She has been the sort of volunteer that you can always count on to attend meetings and create energy through her passion for our mission. She lost both her father and grandfather to lung cancer so she is an excellent advocate for the Lung Association. During the six years she has served on our Leadership Council, she has had a central role in all of the programs we have accomplished. Because she is the shining star of our group, we would like for her to be recognized for her efforts, passions and results.

jodiWichita - Jodi Johnston (pictured here, on the left) has been on the Wichita Leadership Council for two years now. When she started on the council she wanted to make sure that the word got out about asthma. Her husband’s family has several family members who have asthma and she knows how important it is to understand the disease. Jodi goes above and beyond her duties on the Council. Jodi has also been great help with the planning of the Fight for Air Climb in Wichita. Before helping out as a volunteer, she participated in the Climb and decided to help with the planning to make the event a success! If you ask her to help with anything at all, she is willing to help.

Jodi has recently taken on the role of Leadership Council Chair, and she is ready to take the Wichita Leadership Council to the next level and get great things happening here in Wichita.


New Orleans - Louisiana is blessed to have John Clifford "JayCee" Falcon. He is an outstanding human, being not because of his tireless efforts to promote the American Lung Association and our mission, not because he called the organization more than eight years ago and said he wanted to do this "jeep thing", which has now resulted in a jayceedonation of over $300,000, not because is he responsible for more than $165,000 annually in radio air time promoting  the jeep jaunt and other Lung Association interests on the radio and TV appearances, not because he helped launch our first annual Fight For Air Walk in Lafayette by agreeing to emcee and bringing several of the Falcon Clan to walk and volunteer as well, not because he spends many weekends promoting the jeep jaunt at other jeep events, but because he knows the heartbreak of lung disease as he lost his mother to asthma. 

JayCee is the one of kindest and most humble gentlemen you will ever meet if you have the pleasure of doing so. He doesn't accept accolades very well, but he is so deserving in so many ways. JayCee not only devotes his time to the Lung Association but to Wounded Warriors, Muscular Dystrophy and way too many numerous other benefits and fundraisers in Acadiana to list. 

“I truly don't think the word 'no' is in his vocabulary when it comes to his part in making the American Lung Association or Louisiana a better place,” said Aline Vitale, Development Director for the American Lung Association in New Orleans. “He is so deserving of this award and is a living billboard that one person can make a huge difference in the American Lung Association and our world.”


kathy hJackson - Kathy Haynes has been a member of the Mississippi Leadership Council for many years. In addition to serving on the Council, she has served as the Lung Health Chair and is extremely dedicated to Mississippi's asthma work and programs. She is very passionate about asthma education not only as an American Lung Association volunteer but also in her professional career.

Kathy's work with the American Lung Association includes: 
  • Being a member of the North Mississippi Asthma coalition since its creation
  • Serving as an advisor and presenter for Asthma Educator Institutes across the state of Mississippi 
  • Serving as a camp director for the North Mississippi Asthma Camp, Camp Breathe Ezzze. Along with a team of volunteers, she has coordinated the camp for almost ten years. Not only does she work to provide the best asthma education to the campers, but she also secures all of the funding to provide the camp through the North Mississippi Hospital that she works for as well as additional in-kind donations.
In summary, Kathy is a long-time volunteer committed to making a difference through asthma education, and we are grateful to have her.


St. Louis - Dennis Purkis, the truly awesome Chair of the Fight for Air Climb in St. Louis, is a wonder. He helmed the ever successful St. Louis Climb with gusto and vigor, making it, yet again, one of the most successful climbs in the country. He is dedicated and an asset amongst our volunteers.

We are lucky to have him pushing for the causes supported by the American Lung Association.


Bruce ThrasherOmaha - Bruce Thrasher, a retired Mutual of Omaha executive, has served on the Omaha Leadership Council for several years. Bruce is one of the most active and engaged volunteers and has been a huge asset to the team. He is committed to the American Lung Association’s mission and continues to serve with both his time and talent.  

Bruce has helped tremendously in bringing the new Omaha staff up to speed. He is always more than willing to accompany staff on meetings with potential donors and has a wealth of knowledge regarding the Lung Association and the Omaha community. We wish we had more volunteers like Bruce!  


Oklahoma City - Sharra Martin joined the American Lung Association as a volunteer in July 2012 to assist in the planning and implementing of the 2013 Fight for Air Climb in Oklahoma City. Sharra played a huge role in planning and fundraising for the event, including securing in-kind donations and sponsorships and planning several Chick-fil-A Spirit Nights for her team. Sharra is so generous she even planned fundraising nights for other teams just to help them reach their goals.

Sharra recruited the second largest team to climb, and together they raised more than $2,500! She collaborated with many community partners and secured thousands of dollars in sponsorships and a radio sponsor. Thanks to her hard work and dedication (and the help of other committee members) the Fight for Air Climb in Oklahoma City increased participation by 41 percent and fundraising by 49 percent!

Sharra is always the most enthusiastic volunteer, especially when it comes to planning the Fight for Air Climb, and her eagerness to get started gets staff and other volunteers excited too. We are pleased Sharra has accepted the position of the Chair for the 2014 Fight for Air Climb in Oklahoma City!

grahamTulsa - Graham Brannin is the Volunteer of the Year from Tulsa. The Tulsa office has had the benefit of significant support from the Brannin Family, with three generations involved with the organization. They have offered their support financially and as engaged volunteers to work toward a healthier Tulsa.  

Our mission is close to the heart of the Brannin family after losing their patriarch, Dr. Dan E. Brannin, in 1991. A medical professional who gave many hours to our city health department, a marathon runner and non-smoker, Dan Brannin was struck by lung cancer and passed in just five months. Graham and his family began diligently working for the betterment of Tulsa by supporting the American Lung Association.  
Having just completed his second year as Leadership Council Chair, Graham has worked many hours with the local staff on the challenges Tulsa faces. He personally participated in the Fight for Air Climb at the BOK Tower four years in a row with his City Climbers team and secured the presenting sponsorship for the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau. Graham is more than deserving of this recognition because of his passion and devotion to this organization.



todd dixonAustin - Todd Dixon began volunteering with the American Lung Association in Austin after the 2012 Fight for Air Climb. After joining the 2013 Climb committee, Todd quickly became a natural fit on the Leadership Council. His strong work ethic and dedication to the mission impressed the other Council members. During his tenure, Todd secured his company’s repeat sponsorship and stepped up as the 2013 Climb Co-Chair.  

An enthusiastic leader, Todd’s tenacity shines as he sets and accomplishes new goals for the Austin office, such as organizing a large volunteer force at the American Lung Association water stop of the Austin Livestrong Marathon, visiting multiple Better Breathers Club meetings to learn more about our mission and the COPD community, advocating for the mission and the Climb in television interviews and stuffing envelopes for the Thankgiving mailouts to name just a few. No job is too big or too small. Todd is a volunteer that won’t quit until the job is done, and his enthusiasm and positive attitude are infectious.

We at the American Lung Association in Austin are honored to have Todd as part of our volunteer team. We are thankful to Todd for his many hours of hard work to increase the Lung Association's visibility in the community and in bringing attention to our mission locally. Todd is a tremendous asset to the American Lung Association.

- Deborah Bell has been on the Fight for Air Climb Committee for four years. She served as the event Chair in 2012 and Co-Chair in 2013. Deborah works for Financial Additions and has been an incredible asset to the Dallas Climb. She is responsible for recruiting countless teams and participants every year, which has resulted in thousands of dollars towards event fundraising.

Even as a busy mom of three beautiful kids, we are thankful that she always finds time to continuously support the Fight for Air Climb!

- John Bolmanski has been a tireless supporter of the American Lung Association. During one of our many Fight for Air Climb meetings this past year, John shared that his reason for becoming involved with the American Lung Association many years ago was to work with youth tobacco prevention programs. Since that time, John has selflessly volunteered his time and efforts toward numerous initiatives and programs and has consistently provided leadership in various committees.  

john bDuring this past year, John served as Chair of the Leadership Council, spokesman for the Revenue Generation Committee and served on the Fight For Air Climb Committee. He served as a cornerstone and mentor for our new and transitioning Houston staff and provided the knowledge base and experience to make the Fight For Air Climb another successful event.  

John first volunteered with the American Lung Association in 1988 when he answered a local ad seeking volunteers to help with the Alamo Challenge Bike Ride. For many years, he volunteered as part of the Logistics Committee to assist with transportation and coordination of supplies for various events. He joined the Leadership Council around 2000 and has served on various committees and events since that time. He currently serves as Leadership Council Chair and Special Events Committee Chair and is currently working to strengthen our volunteer base to support mission programs and goals. His favorite event (so far) has been the Alamo Challenge Bike Ride. In addition to our upcoming Fight for Air Climb on April 5, 2014, John is planning his own i lungs event, an Asthma Walk, around the first part of December. His goal is to promote the i lungs program, gain funds for our asthma mission and promote the American Lung Association Christmas Seals initiative.

John is a true and dedicated volunteer, and we are fortunate to have him on our team.  
kathy eSan Antonio - Kathy Eskew is one of those people that as soon as you meet, you warm up to her lovely smile and charming personality. Kathy joined the Leadership Council soon after moving to become the CEO of the Kindred Hospital in San Antonio. She is a Registered Nurse by profession and has been CEO of many Kindred Hospitals around the country, including Waltham, MA, Louisville, KY, Greensboro, NC and Pasadena, TX. When the chance came to relocate to San Antonio, she jumped at the opportunity. Since joining the Council about one year ago, she has quickly become a solid supporter of the organization, and as the Revenue Generation Committee Chair, she has been guiding the Council through the budget process with thoughtful and inventive ways to meet and exceed our goals. With her new appointment as Leadership Council Chair, Kathy has taken this commitment to the next stage.

As CEO of Kindred Hospital in San Antonio, Kathy has offered the use of the hospital Board Room for our Leadership Council and event committee meetings and is kind enough to supply a magnificent meal to all the attendees. Kathy has also been instrumental in supporting our Fight for Air 5K Run/Walk with her goal of signing up nearly 100 people to the Kindred Team. Kindred Hospital is a 59-bed acute care facility specializing in medically complex patients and is located close to the Lung Association offices in the Medical Center. It has been a longtime supporter of the organization and with Kathy’s involvement this has been taken to a whole new level. 

The American Lung Association can’t begin to thank Kathy enough for her amazing energy and professionalism that she brings into the organization. Without all the hard work and dedication that Kathy has provided, the San Antonio office just wouldn’t be the same.


Thank you to all of our volunteers. 
We couldn't do what we do without each of you.
Thank you for supporting us in the
fight for air. 

Don't forget to send in news and information about your programs and events! Email to Katie Gregowicz at


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