Why We Walk
We walk for people. For patients and their loved ones. For colleagues and neighbors. For everyone affected by lung disease. We walk because together we can defeat lung cancer and lung disease one step at a time.
What is a LUNG FORCE Hero?
LUNG FORCE Heroes are patients, caregivers, family, friends and co-workers of those who are impacted by lung cancer. Our Heroes share their powerful journeys — stories which help educate the public about what it's like to have lung cancer or lung disease. Heroes may also be asked to speak at a LUNG FORCE Walk Kick-off event, Corporate Recruitment event and/or on Walk day.
If you're interested in becoming a LUNG FORCE Hero, please contact Leah Diederichs for more information. We also invite you to Share Your Voice and read about other Heroes' experiences too. Everyone's story is unique, and we appreciate you getting involved and becoming a LUNG FORCE Hero!
Read why these LUNG FORCE Heroes walk.
LUNG FORCE Hero Savannah H.
About 5 years ago I started to have some breathing issues - I have always been a healthy and active person so I wasn’t sure why I was having a hard time exercising or taking deep breaths. After some testing and visiting a few doctors, I found out I had a tumor on my left lung. I was an avid runner and couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. My entire left lung was removed when I was just 22 years old. After going through this and doing some research, I quickly realized that anyone can suffer from lung cancer or lung disease including young, healthy, and active people. So that is one of the reasons why I walk and support The American Lung Association - to break down the stigma of lung cancer/lung disease.
I attended the LUNG FORCE Walk at the Detroit Zoo in 2019. My team, Breathe Deep for Savannah, spent the morning alongside other heroes and advocates to raise funds for lung cancer research and education. I was blown away by the support I received at this walk - I was even interviewed on the news to share my story. This day was emotional and harder than I expected, but it made me realize that I am strong enough to share my story and help others.
In an effort to raise awareness and funds for lung cancer research, I launched Breathe Deep Bracelets! Each bracelet includes lava beads to infuse essential oils - I have found great comfort in using essential oils while adjusting to life with one lung. A majority of my bracelets include turquoise beads - the official color of women’s lung health. I am dedicated to turning my unfortunate situation into a positive change - to help others and to hopefully make a positive impact. 15% of profits support the American Lung Association. Feel free to visit https://www.breathedeepbracelets.com/ to learn more about my story and to view available bracelets.
LUNG FORCE Hero Shannon S.
After several years of supporting the Komen 5K Run/Walk for Breast Cancer Research, it dawned on me that I was supporting the wrong cause. Not that breast cancer isn't a worthy cause and not because I didn't know anyone affected by the disease, but because I had lost BOTH of my parents to forms of LUNG disease. The American Lung Association was the cause I needed to give my time and attention to.
My mother was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer at the age of 54. After nine months of treatment which included radiation, chemotherapy and experimental protocols her tumor, which started out the size of a lemon, had been reduced to the size of shirt button. After a one month respite from treatment, my mom's next PET scan showed that the tumor had metastasized and spread to her brain, bones and most major organs. She died two weeks later at the age of 55 almost a year to the day of her original diagnosis.
My father, ironically, quit smoking six months prior to my mother's diagnosis of lung cancer. Six years after her passing he received his own terminal diagnosis. He was given two to four months to live after years of refusing a lung transplant and battling both COPD and congestive heart failure. He lived 28 months under modified hospice care. He was house bound and on oxygen 24 hours a day. He was in his mid 60s, but looked as if he was in his 80s. He died at the age of 67.
At the age of 37 I was now an orphan having watched both of my parents die at the hands of lung disease from their years of addiction to nicotine.
For the last several years I have worked with my local office of the American Lung Association to raise funds and awareness for lung cancer, general lung health and air quality. Fundraising each year in the names of Jack and Sue Skelly is the one truly good thing I do each year. In striving to share awareness it is my greatest hope that I also honor both my mom and my dad.
LUNG FORCE Hero Michael S.
Most of you know about the tragic news that hit my family in 2017, when my best friend, my go-to person, my brother, Robert Settler (a.k.a. Uncle Buck) was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. He was diagnosed in February and died 7 months later, on September 5, 2017. Robert was not only my "everything", he was so many people's "everything." A natural husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend, Robert touched so many lives which was evident by the huge turnout at both of his services in Albany, NY (his hometown) and then the next day in Westchester County, where his body was laid to rest. Robert was the second brother that I lost (Ricky died in 2002 at the age of 42).
When Robert's wife, Susan Settler, and his two amazing daughters, Julia and Lauren, approached me about doing something for this cause to benefit the American Lung Association; without hesitation, I told them I was all in! With the help from my wife, Mona Settler, and my staff (Addy, Karen, Marie, and Angelina) we joined the team to walk the event and help raise money to save lives by preventing lung disease through research, education and advocacy.