Race for the Missing Millions

February 16, 2010 9:33:29 AM PST
Grammy Award-winning country music star Patty Loveless has started a cross-country race with actor Jim Belushi, Olympic champion Bruce Jenner, former NFL star Michael Strahan and race car driver Danica Patrick. They're looking for people who may be at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Each team member is racing for close family members who have battled a form of COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema or both. The goal for the celebrities is to screen at least 1 million people across the United States this year on the website. Each racer, covering a different part of the country, wants to raise awareness of COPD and encourage those who may be at risk to speak with their doctors.

The celebrity drivers are competing in the four-day race, spanning 6,000 miles via four different routes. The Race Teams started at the Daytona International Speedway on February 16 with laps around the legendary race track. Then the racers were off to hit 14 designated "Pit Stops" across the country. Patty is stopping at Chicago's Water Tower Place on Tuesday, February 16 from noon to 3 pm to screen people at risk for COPD for free.

About 12 million people in the United States may have COPD, but remain undiagnosed. The serious, progressive disease robs people of their ability to breathe and kills more Americans each year than breast cancer and diabetes combined. More than 1.1 million people in Illinois have COPD, including more than 728,000 in Chicago.

Patty is well-known as one of the world's greatest country singers. The Kentucky-born singer grew up in a small town and climbed her way to the top, recording 14 albums with 40 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts and securing her place in history as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. But few know that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious and debilitating lung disease that took the life of her sister, Dottie, at the age of 48. She fought a difficult battle with emphysema, a form of COPD. So now, Patty is lending her voice to the DRIVE4COPD campaign, a multi-year public health initiative designed to focus national attention on this common disease and screen the millions of people who may be at risk for it. She composed the theme song for the campaign, called "Driver" in memory of her sister.

More information on Patty's role in the DRIVE4COPD campaign, including a free download of the campaign song she wrote, can be found at DRIVE4COPD.com. Everyone who logs onto DRIVE4COPD.COM and take the five-question screener will be eligible to enter for a chance to win an Ultimate NASCAR® Weekend in Daytona.

As many as 24 million Americans have COPD ? even those who haven't smoked in years ? and half of them are not diagnosed (12 million).

  • COPD is the fourth leading cause of death and the only one increasing in prevalence.
  • COPD kills more people each year than breast cancer and diabetes combined.
  • Those at risk include people 35 years of age or older or those who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in a lifetime.
  • Due to its gradual onset, many patients are not diagnosed until they are hospitalized or require emergency care to treat the disease. By that time, they may have lost half of their lung function. Early diagnosis of COPD is critical, as lung damage is not reversible but is treatable when managed with a doctor.


    Patty discovered her passion for performing by watching her older sister, Dottie, perform at local venues. At age 11 she started strumming a guitar, at 14 she started touring with her older brother and during weekend summers in high school, she began traveling with Dolly Parton. Since the release of her first self-titled album in 1987, Patty has consistently rewarded her fans with new and creative music in her blend of honky-tonk and county rock style.

    Patty has achieved many respected accolades including CMA's Top Female Vocalist (1996 and 1997); AMA's Favorite New Country Artist (1989); and CMA's Album of the Year (1995). She was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1988 and Georgia's Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Her latest album, Mountain Soul II, was released on September 29, 2009.

    Patty Loveless
    Noon to 3 pm
    Level 3 (near J. Jill and Crane & Co.)
    Water Tower Place