Heart of the midstate: A breath of hope


Hundreds of adults, children and even their pets are invited to take over Harrisburg’s City Island in a sea of turquoise for the 6th Annual Harrisburg LUNG FORCE Walk on Saturday, November 2nd. The event brings together advocates for lung cancer, asthma, COPD, as well as lung cancer patients currently fighting for their lives. The interactive event will educate attendees about lung cancer detection, research and treatment.

In 2018 the group raised $35,476.52. This year the groups goal is $40,000. You can register as walkers, virtual participants, or volunteers for this one-mile route by clicking online here or registering onsite. 

ALA says Lung Cancer is the #1 cancer killer of men and women. They said lung cancer kills more than 400 people every day, with a new diagnosis occurring every 2½ minutes. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is among the lowest among leading cancers. Yet according to the Lung Association’s Lung Health Barometer awareness of lung cancer and the lifesaving potential of lung cancer screening is critically low.

The ALA said there are 236,700 children in PA with living asthma and 1,030,500 with adult asthma. Many participate in the LUNG FORCE Walk to honor a loved one who lost their life to lung disease or to rally around someone currently living with lung disease. One of the people walking is Levi Waylon Leshak. Here is his story:

Levi was born at 31 weeks, when he was born he weighed only 3 pounds 1 ounce.  After he was born he dropped down to his lowest weight at 2 pounds 4 ounces.  Levi spent 8 weeks in the NCIU prior to coming home just shy of being 2 months old.  His mom was on hospital bedrest for many weeks prior to his birth and she received two rounds of steroid shots to help Levi’s lung development prior to his premature birth.  Even with those rounds of steroids when Levi was born he went into respiratory distress and needed additional support.  Levi was on a bubble c-pap for about 6 weeks while he was in the NICU.  When Levi returned home he continued to require medical care for a variety of reasons.  During Levi’s first three years of life anytime that he would get a common cold he would end up in respiratory distress. 

When Levi was about 5 months old he taken to the doctor for a suspected ear infection.  As soon as the doctor came into the room she immediately stated he was having trouble breathing and within two minutes they had him hooked up to a nebulizer machine receiving breathing treatments.  They attempted two nebulizer treatments and was later admitted to the hospital for three days.  This would be the start of multiple admissions to the hospital during cold/flu season.  Even if Levi gets just a common cold it often means many sleepless nights filled with wheezing, coughing and breathing treatments. 

Levi was diagnosed with Reactive Airy Way Disorder until he was 3.  When he turned 3 he was given the official diagnosis of Asthma.  Since then we have developed an asthma action plan with his doctors.  All caretakers for Levi receive this asthma action plan including his grandparents, daycare facility and we keep a copy at home as well.  Anytime Levi is running and playing for an extended period of time, he will usually have to take more frequent breaks than his peers due to coughing fits that he will have.  He also takes a daily medication to treat his allergies and asthma all year round. 

Details of the walk:

  • WHAT: American Lung Association in Harrisburg – LUNG FORCE Walk
  • WHEN: Saturday, November 2, 2019. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.. Opening ceremony starts at 9:30 a.m. Costume Contest starts at 9:35 a.m. Walk starts at 10 a.m.
  • WHERE: Carousel Pavilion, City Island – Harrisburg, PA
  • HOW: Participation is free, but walkers are encouraged to fundraise as an individual or with a team. If you’re interested in raising funds but can’t attend the walk you can register as a Virtual Walker by clicking here.

Special guests of the walk include LUNG FORCE Hero Carlisle resident Tammy Zuch who will share her story at the wall and ABC27’s Weekend Morning Anchor Michella Drapac.

Levi will be walking with lung heroes and is a lung champion. His grandmother recently passed of lung cancer and this is Levi’s first year to participate in the walk. Funds raised will support research, advocacy, education and awareness for those impacted by lung disease. 88 cents out of every dollar raised is going to program services nationwide. Through this investment in research, the American Lung Association is investing in a healthier future for Americans, including the 35 million individuals who live with a chronic lung disease.

ALA said in 2019 there are approximately 8,250 Pennsylvanians living with lung cancer; more than 10,380 people in Pennsylvanians will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and 6,730 will succumb to the deadly disease in 2019. More must be done to save lives. There are 236,700 children in PA with child asthma and more than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians with chronic lung disease.

The American Lung Association in Delaware offers several resources for individuals and families who have been impacted by lung cancer. Anyone seeking help can visit LUNGFORCE.org or call the Lung Association’s toll-free Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA for information, resources and support services.

“Saved By The Scan” is the first-of-its-kind campaign working to raise awareness of the benefits of lung cancer early detection through lung cancer screening. For more details click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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