Hundreds of health care professionals, patients, families and caregivers along with industry supporters celebrated the start of Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) Awareness Month Nov. 5 at California O2breathe walks in Fresno and Monrovia.
More than 225 attendees raised funds and awareness at the ninth annual Central California O2breathe Walk at the UCSF-Fresno Community Regional Medical Center campus in California’s Central Valley. The PHA-accredited PH Care Center staff in Fresno, led by Vijay Balasubramanian, M.D., manages the care of more than 350 patients with PH from Modesto to Bakersfield.
The ninth annual Monrovia O2breathe PHun Walk took place in memory of community leader Joannie Gholar Yullie. Joannie established the Monrovia event and was a co-leader of the local PHA support group. More than 200 attendees enjoyed two walking routes and live music from local musical duo the Licata Brothers, who have been performing at the event since its inception.
Both Saturday events featured patients and families. Central Valley PH patients Cristina Arias and Arturo Correa talked about their experiences and how their lives improved once they were diagnosed and on treatment. Families remembered those who lost their lives to PH by blowing bubbles and planting wildflower seeds in small pots.
In Monrovia, Mayor Becky Shevlin and city council members read a proclamation naming November from here on as pulmonary hypertension month. Michelle Kim was honored as Caregiver of the Year. Also attending the event was Michelle’s daughter Cayla, who was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension at 4 years old and is now in her early 20s.
Saturday’s Central California event included a DJ, shaved ice food truck and a bouncy house for children. Attendees bought tickets to win donated items ranging from baskets of local goods to restaurant certificates that raised money for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.
Organized by a hard-working committee that included local support group leaders, PHCC staff and patients and their families, the Central Valley walk was the first in-person event since the pandemic began in early 2020. Griselda Vargas, Cristina Arias, Gerardo Estrada, Arturo Correa, Marina Martinez, Coralee Koning and Eric Correa led the local organizing efforts.
The Southern California event will celebrate its 10th year in November 2023 – continuing to inspire hope through the legacy Joannie created.