Thursday, May 27, 2010

Former NFL Player Jarvis Williams Dies of Asthma Attack at 45

Today, we learned that Jarvis Williams, a former defensive back for the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants, died of an asthma attack at 45 on Tuesday night.

Williams had been a volunteer football coach at Interlachen High School in Putnam County, Florida, since early this year and his friends and colleagues said he appeared to be in good health, according to an article by the Associated Press. Williams leaves behind his son, who followed in his dad’s footsteps and currently plays football for Jacksonville University.

We know the statistics: Ten people die of asthma every day.

But statistics are cold – they don’t tell the stories of the lives that were suddenly lost or what went wrong when everything seemed so right. Williams was devoted to his family and the young people he coached. According to the Interlachen High School principal, Williams, a professional athlete, had seemed to be in good shape and perfectly healthy, shattering the myth that only people with severe, debilitating asthma are at risk of death.

NFL linebacker Chris Draft, who was recently signed with the Washington Redskins, knows firsthand what it’s like to have asthma suddenly take your breath away on and off the playing field. In college, his symptoms nearly sidelined his hopes of playing professional football until he found the right medical care and treatment plan. Determined to help others overcome asthma and lead active, healthy lives, Chris founded The Chris Draft Family Foundation in 1996 to inform and inspire people and families with asthma.

Earlier this month, Chris Draft and I launched the Great American Asthma Challenge, the first-ever grassroots movement to eliminate asthma death and suffering. I contacted Chris earlier today to tell him about Jarvis Williams. We agreed that the news multiplies our resolve to enroll every family affected by asthma in the Great American Asthma Challenge.

A mom whose son died of asthma at age 6 once said: “I thought asthma was a way of life. I never knew it could be a way of death until it happened to my son.” A 2-year-old died in her father’s arms while he gave her a breathing treatment – only two hours prior, she’d been released from the emergency department across the street from their home. She died without a struggle.

Help change the future of asthma by taking steps today to eliminate needless asthma death and suffering. It’s easier than you think. Look, Learn, Act:

Monday, May 10, 2010

AANMA ♥s Nurses!

May 6-12 is Nurses’ Week. Do you have a nurse you’d like to thank? Someone special who helped you or your family? 

I have a favorite nurse: Carol Jones, RN AE-C She joined AANMA more than 20 years ago and volunteered many times throughout the years. Carol understands asthma from a personal perspective as well -- she has asthma, as do her husband and grown children. Carol now answers your medical questions through AANMA’s Patient Support Center at (800) 878-4403 ext. 117 or

We'd love to hear about nurses who touched your life -- send us an e-mail to and we'll share results here!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We're in the home stretch!

We’re in the home stretch for Asthma Awareness Day Capitol Hill 2010 (May 5) and I just finished a live televised segment with Chris Draft, NFL Linebacker, on WJLA TV. From there I dropped Chris at his next meeting and drove to my hotel. Room’s not ready so I’m sitting at the corner table of the restaurant facing Dupont Circle. It’s a perfect sunny day and the first chance I’ve had to notice all day.

You’d think after 13 years of hosting this annual event in which Congress listens and responds to issues affecting people with asthma and allergies that it would all be rather routine by now. And you’d be right --except that every single year something pops up that's unexpected.

Like the first year when we expected only one member of Congress to speak and 16 showed up! All of them spoke about their personal experience with asthma and allergies, and promised to help us address each of our issues. And they’ve proven faithful.

With their help, students with asthma can now carry inhalers at school, and in 46 states, they can carry their auto-injectable epinephrine if prescribed for anaphylaxis. With their help, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) no longer reimburses for illegally mass-manufactured nebulizer medications.

Each year is an advocacy success story that took a year or more of hard work prior to and following each event. I remember the year after September 11 and the anthrax attacks on Congress created a security snafu in which our event materials, signs, booth etc. didn’t arrive until after the Congressional briefing began. No matter -- our staff set up a fire bucket brigade line and silently loaded the room unnoticed by the audience. At the end of presentations, we invited them to the screening and fair, and as people turned around to look, there was an audible gasp of surprise: the room was transformed.

And so were the issues of access to specialty care, diagnostic testing and appropriate therapies as deemed by the patient/family and medical care provider.

Tomorrow we’re expecting 10 members of Congress to join us, most of whom have already signed up for the Great American Asthma Challenge pledging to do their part to eliminate asthma death and suffering in the United States. You can sign up, too! Just go to and follow the Great American Asthma Challenge logo.

The Great American Asthma Challenge needs you! Right now, we have sections for families, medical care providers and legislators, but we’ll be adding sections for coalitions, working groups, volunteers – because this, as Chris Draft says, is a TEAM effort: Together for Effective Asthma Management.

Hope you can join us for the Congressional and Press Breakfast Briefing tomorrow morning! But if not, stop by the Allergy and Asthma Health Fair and Screening in Rayburn Foyer. It’s very easy to get to (just one block from the Capitol South stop on the Metro blue and orange lines) and you’ll get a FREE pulmonary functions test, exhaled nitric oxide test and consultation with an allergist – a $500 value, and you can take the test results with you! (Click here for more details.)

Okay, time to get ready – come what may, it will be another great Asthma Awareness Day on Capitol Hill!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Hear “Dr. Jackie” talk about AANMA’s free asthma screenings – tonight on NBC4 in DC, 4-5 pm!

Tune in to NBC4 in Washington, DC, tonight, between 4 and 5 pm ET, to hear Jacqueline Eghrari-Sabet, MD – a.k.a. “Dr. Jackie,” a board-certified allergist with Family Allergy & Asthma Care – talk about the free asthma screenings that will be offered at AANMA’s Asthma Awareness Day Capitol Hill on May 5!

Eghrari-Sabet is a medical expert and regular contributor to health segments for NBC4. She’s also contributed her expertise to articles that have appeared in The Washington Post, Parenting, Self and Ladies Home Journal. She has spoken at national and international conferences on allergy and asthma.

Asthma & Allergy Health Fair and Free Asthma Screenings
11 am - 1:30 pm
Wed. May 5, 2010
Rayburn House Office Building, Rayburn Foyer (2nd floor)
50 Independence Ave. SW

(Just one block from the Capitol South station on the Metro orange and blue lines.)