It is an age old issue for many deserving charitable organization … how to raise awareness, how to get media attention. We ask ourselves, “Aren’t the life and death stories of the men, women and yes, children, those in our community, compelling enough for those in the media to write about? The staggering number of Americans who will get ARDS, and worse, the outrageous number of those who will die from this insidious syndrome, isn’t that compelling enough?”
I once asked a columnist what we might do to try to get more attention and he advised to think of an innovative fundraiser. I just read about the yearly fundraiser for a children’s cancer organization raises money when adults shave their heads. Of course, there is the now famous “Calendar Girls” fundraisers, and our Lung Association yearly raises money with their “Hustle Up the Hancock.”
Not only are we competing with such innovative ideas but also we are competing with worthy causes and a public who has heard of and understands these illnesses, ailments or syndromes. This makes it especially difficult for us at the ARDS Foundation, a small organization, trying to explain Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, a relatively unknown syndrome that strikes its unsuspecting victims, whose numbers are close to one hundred fifty-thousand each year in the United States,without warning.
During October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this month’s American Heart Awareness Month, the public has received information about both of these medical topics, in the newspapers, in magazines, on television and on the Internet. They hear medical information from doctors, and stories from celebrities and lay people. It is wonderful what can be done when the media takes notice of important issues.
As I said, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome affects approximate 150,000 Americans each year and though statistics vary, approximately half of those diagnosed with ARDS will die. Though there is little information available about ARDS, those who have been affected by this syndrome continue to flock to the ARDS Foundation website at staggering numbers. When a family member is diagnosed with ARDS, they need more information about this underreported and little understood syndrome.
This does not have to be… ARDS can be demystified. It just needs more public awareness.
So, while we will not be shaving our heads, posing nude, or climbing tall buildings, we do have both incredible stories of those who, against all odds, beat this syndrome, and sadly, tragic stories of those who fought bravely only to succumb to ARDS. We are a group volunteers who helps others because, well, we are passionate about helping others who are facing what we ourselves once faced. But we need just a little help ourselves.