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August 07. 2014 6:39PM

Local foundation provides assistance to patients suffering from lung disease.


Ron Geoffroy Sr. holds up a photo of his late wife, Marylou, who died of a fatal lung disease in 2011. Geoffroy helped found The Second Wind Foundation for Pulmonary Fibrosis to raise awareness and research money for the disease, which kills about 40,000 people a year. (Ryan O’Connor)

AUBURN — Ron Geoffroy knows all too well the emotional pains of traveling back and forth to Boston to obtain some of the world’s best medical care for a dying loved one. He’s also well aware of the associated financial burden.

Geoffroy, an Auburn resident, drove his wife of 30 years, Marylou, back and forth for years as she battled and eventually succumbed to pulmonary fibrosis, a rare and debilitating disease that creates scar tissue in the lungs, making breathing progressively difficult.

Now he’s using the charity he started with his wife, the Second Wind Foundation for Pulmonary Fibrosis, to assist with travel costs as qualifying families attend to their loved ones’ medical needs.

“As Marylou’s condition deteriorated, we were traveling to Boston for doctors appointments a few times a month,” he said. “This is exactly why we started the Breathe Easy program, to give some monetary support to families suffering from pulmonary fibrosis.”

The Breathe Easy program, which provides $50 gas cards to qualified recipients, is open to anyone suffering from PF or caring for someone battling the rare disease, which has no known cure.

Geoffroy said those diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which afflicts more than 500,000 people and kills about 40,000 annually in the United States, must meet with their doctors regularly to monitor their condition. Costs associated with home health care, medication and oxygen tanks place a significant financial strain on patients and their families, he said.

“We decided to certainly begin the process of helping families with some type of financial support as they endure the financial strain of dealing with this disease,” he said. “We’re still a relatively small organization, so we’re starting with helping families go to and from doctors appointments.”

Geoffroy said the organization is attempting, thus far without much luck, to get gas station companies to contribute to the effort. As the foundation grows, he said, the programming is likely to expand to include hotel vouchers, help with prescription medications and other forms of assistance.

The Second Wind Foundation holds several fundraising efforts each year, including a promotion with the Manchester Monarchs in which proceeds from a designated game’s ticket sales go toward PF research.

 

To raise money for the Breathe Easy program, the Second Wind Foundation will host a charity motorcycle ride, which begins at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall at 161 Londonderry Turnpike in Hooksett, on Sept. 13. Puritan Back Room will provide food and beverage for the event, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at a cost of $25 per motorcycle and $10 for each additional rider. Early registrants receive a $5 discount.

“The Give a Gift of Breath motorcycle ride is one of our biggest annual fundraisers for the Second Wind Foundation,” said Geoffroy.

“We’re hoping this becomes our premier event,” he added.

More information on the Second Wind Foundation, the Breathe Easy program and the charity ride can be found at secondwindforpf.com, or via Facebook at facebook.com/SecondWind4PF.

roconnor@newstote.com


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