The Barnard family, including Gayle (second from right, middle row), Leah (right, middle row) and Ben (second from right, top row).

When Gayle Barnard passed due to complications from pulmonary hypertension (PH) in October 2019, her family wanted to honor her by supporting others with PH. Gayle and her husband Ben had joined the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA)’s Sustainers Circle in 2012, and he wanted to continue supporting the monthly giving program.

“I continue to give to PHA monthly because it was so important to Gayle,” Ben says. “My gift is made each month in her memory.”

Sharing Gayle’s story help the family keep her memory alive, says Leah Leitch, Ben and Gayle’s daughter. “She was committed to helping others, and now we carry the torch for her,” Leah says.

Gayle struggled with breathing issues while Ben was stationed in Mexico City on military assignment. They spent three years in the city, which is about 6,000 feet above sea level. When they returned to the United States, Gayle underwent a right heart catheterization, which showed her PH likely was caused by undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Initially, she was told she had idiopathic PH.

After the diagnosis, Gayle saw specialists who were able to help her better manage the disease. She and Ben also connected with PHA and attended support groups near their home in Richmond, Virginia.

“My bride was passionate about helping people facing this disease in any way she could,” Ben says. The Barnards were inspired to give to PHA monthly because of Gayle’s desire to give back.

Gayle’s PH diagnosis affected the entire family. “All of us wanted to support her in every way we could,” Leah says.

Are you inspired by Gayle’s story? Learn more about joining the Sustainers Circle.