Because Metro East statistics for asthma are on the rise and one of the leading volunteers for asthma education has had her life altered by the chronic disease, Jaris Waide and the American Lung Association have made it possible for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to continue collaborating with the Southwest Illinois Asthma Coalition in efforts to increase asthma education in the area.
Waide, of Godfrey, along with the ALA, presented key members of the coalition, including Rhonda Comrie, PhD, SIUE School of Nursing associate dean, with a check for $4,000 on July 14 at Glazebrook Park in Godfrey. Waide started her fundraising efforts in 2000 with the American Lung Association, supporting its annual Asthma Walk.
Other organizations that collaborate with the local asthma coalition include the SIUE School of Pharmacy, St. Clair County Health Department, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Representatives from the asthma coalition also took part in a recent two-day CDC Site Visit at SIUE’s We Care Clinic.
“I want to help,” said Waide, to a group of supporters sitting at rapt attention listening to her measured speech, a result of a severe asthma attack years ago. “It is for children like Logan. This is why I do it.”
Jamie Stumpf Stunkel, mother of 22-month-old Logan and SIUE alumna (MS-Kinesiology), wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. Logan was diagnosed with asthma at the age of six months, along with other respiratory issues.
“We are inspired by Jaris and grateful for the financial support she has given the American Lung Association and the Asthma Coalition,” said Comrie. “Her assistance will help us in providing education and resources for asthma management throughout the Metro East. These funds will target programs in the Godfrey and Alton areas.”
Waide’s journey with asthma began in 1998, when she had such a devastating asthma attack that she was unresponsive when help arrived. A lack of oxygen to Waide’s brain left her with mobility and speech problems. She is also legally blind.
“When I met Jaris many years ago at our annual Walk event, she was determined to walk just like all other participants. She just happened to have her physical therapist assisting her while using her walker,” said Lori Younker, director of Program Services with ALA. “Jaris continues to inspire and motivate others. Her mobility has improved year after year, so she can walk further with her participants.”
“Asthma education and research is sorely needed. People can die from asthma attacks,” said Comrie. “St. Clair County has the highest rate of asthma hospitalization in Illinois, and Madison County ranks 3rd in the state.”
The CDC held its Illinois site visit from July 12-13 at the SIUE School of Nursing’s WE CARE Clinic in East St. Louis. The meeting was the periodic CDC site visit for the CDC National Asthma Control Program, which provides funding in Illinois “to help improve surveillance of asthma, train health professionals, educate individuals with asthma and their families, and explain asthma to the public.”
Key participants at the workshop included Comrie and other SIUE representatives: Charlotte Chance, clinical assistant professor and asthma coordinator at WE CARE; Mick Straub, WE CARE community health worker, Jennifer Hayes, intern in the public health program of the SIUE Department of Applied Health, and Caitlin Condray, senior in the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior; David Crumly and Maithili Deshpande, SIU School of Medicine; Shirl Ellis Odem, CDC; Nancy Amerson, Dami Emuze, Tiffanie Pressley and Nikki Woolverton, all of the Illinois Department of Public Health; and John Patena and Felicia Fuller, American Lung Association.
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