In November 2011, the COPD Foundation asked readers to select a 2011 COPD Community Champion, an individual who has made outstanding contributions to COPD awareness, advocacy and volunteerism.
After tallying all of the votes, our 2011 COPD Community Champion emerged: Nick Jones!
A well-known figure in the COPD community, Jones leads a community support group called The Airheads in Thee Villages, Florida. Jones is a compassionate teacher who helps others with his unwavering positive attitude.
In response to this outpouring of support, the COPD Foundation asked Jones to share some of his thoughts regarding COPD, support groups and what made 2011 memorable.
How did you get involved with COPD education?
I first began to get short of breath in 1985. In 1996, I had a heart attack and the doctor mentioned that I had a lot of fibrosis in my lungs. Later that same year, I had another heart attack and was told that my lungs looked pretty bad, and I should get them checked out. ?at is when I was diagnosed with COPD and put forth a concerted effort to learn more about the disease. In 2001, my wife Jan and I started Airheads because we knew we had valuable information that could be shared through meetings, breathing and exercise classes, and a course that we taught together.
How important are support groups for the COPD community?
They are very important. By joining a support group you can relate to those with similar challenges and learn a lot. Take your spouse with youwhen you get the same information at the same time, it can eliminate the you just dont understand syndrome.
What was your best moment of 2011?
Jan believes that it might have been surviving my third heart attack while on a SeaPuffer cruise in March. Since I never disagree with my wife, Ill have to go along with that. Her agreeing to go on a cruise with me in March of 2012 has to rate right up there. Having DRIVE4COPD Celebrity Ambassador Billy Ray Cyrus select my entry in the DRIVE4COPD Song Writing Contest to show at his appearances was a wonderful surprise and honor. Speaking to the International Convention for Respiratory care about the benefits of Transtracheal Oxygen Therapy with John Goodman and Dr. Michael Schwartz at the Tampa Convention Center was a thrill.
What can we expect from you in 2012?
I start off the New Year wearing two new hats: as an EFFORTS Ambassador and a soon-to-be Associate on the C.O.P.D. Information Line. I will continue to be an advocate and visit the state capitol to speak with legislators. I will continue to work with the Florida COPD Coalition by participating in the Community Workshops. Even with all of that, my Airheads come first.