Return to all articles It’s a Team Effort – And We Need You Posted on June 17, 2016 | 10 Likes It’s a Team Effort – And We Need You This blog post was written by Mary Kitlowski, Founder of Running on Air. The first step to solving a problem is to identify it, which has been an issue for those of us with lung and rare diseases. As a means of increasing awareness, I began entering races. I need to wear a portable oxygen concentrator because of my limited lung capacity. Last year, the magazine Runner’s World had a contest in which the winner would appear on the cover of the December issue. I recognized this as an opportunity to raise awareness of lung diseases and rare diseases to an audience of over 650,000 people. The contest was in three stages. In the first, only the top male and the top female vote recipients move into the semifinals. The judges determine the other 98 semifinalists. Voting takes place for several months. Friends, family and even people who I’d never even met voted for me, and I made it through to the second round. I wanted people to feel that each vote for me was also a commitment to bringing attention to unneeded suffering and the need for research, treatments and cures. In the next round, the top male and the top female vote recipients automatically qualified as finalists with the judges determining the other eight finalists. Despite being one of the top vote receivers, I was not chosen as a finalist. I felt as if I personally let my community down. I have again entered the contest. I know the only guaranteed way of raising awareness of lung and rare diseases and making the final stage is to have the most votes of all female contestants. This is analogous to the struggle to get the medical attention needed, or the FDA approval for certain medications. It is a race against time. As with running, sometimes the first step is the hardest. It takes dedication just to get out the door and covering the miles for the day takes discipline. I realize that making the cover will be more of a relay than an individual race, as the majority of this depends on the baton being passed to you, the voters. The race is on now and goes through mid-August. My part of the relay race is as follows: To let people know how critically important their support and votes are to help raise awareness. Post on Facebook daily to remind people to vote and to share a fact about rare diseases or lung diseases. Post on Twitter and tag organizations that have a common interest in raising awareness in hopes that they will share to increase votes. Share with people in person daily to get more votes. Post flyers in my doctor’s offices and pulmonary rehab facilities explaining what I’m doing to help get more votes. I am passing the baton to you. This is your part of the race: Vote daily. Just go to the Runner's World website and click the “vote” button. Pass the baton to at least one other person, like family or a friend, to vote daily. If you would like a daily reminder to vote and see the daily fact, you can like our Facebook page Running On Air. Voting is really easy and takes less than 10 seconds. You don’t need to register or enter any data and you don’t receive any spam. You can just go directly to the website with the link above and vote. There is still a lot of time left in this contest, about 60 days as of the writing of this article, which includes the semifinals. That’s plenty of time to vote daily and move us into first place. This contest is truly a team effort and is dependent on each of us doing our part.