Congressman Kirk to Give Keynote Speech, Hope to B.I.G. Ball Attendees About Disease That Claimed His Father

Friday, October 10, 2008 General News
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Congressman to Present at 3rd Annual Breathing Is Glorious! (B.I.G.) Ball at Renaissance Chicago Hotel October 11th

CHICAGO, Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Mark Kirk knows firsthand how relentless pulmonary fibrosis is on its victims. His father, Frank Kirk, of Kenilworth, Ill., died from the disease in February. Rep. Kirk will deliver the keynote address at this weekend's 3rd annual Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis'(CPF) Breathing Is Glorious! (B.I.G.) Ball in Chicago to an expected audience of more than 300. Congressman Kirk will share his family's experience with the disease and deliver a message of support for the CPF's work to find treatments and a cure for pulmonary fibrosis - a disease with no lifesaving treatments.

Congressman Kirk, along with Senator Richard Durbin (D), serves as honorary co-chair of the B.I.G. Ball event Saturday night at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel in downtown Chicago. The event will benefit the CPF and the University of Chicago (UC)'s Interstitial Lung Disease Program. The CPF has donated $123,000 to the university's PF research program in the last three years.

"We are so pleased to have Congressman Kirk speak about an experience that is, no doubt, still incredibly raw for him and his family," said Mishka Michon, Chief Executive Officer for the CPF. We are particularly grateful to him for his original co-sponsorship of landmark legislation that will provide the first federal funding for a patient registry (H.R. 6567). The B.I.G. Ball is a wonderful opportunity for many of our committed local supporters to hear directly from the Congressman about the importance of the effort to find a cure.

"I know what it is like to see someone you love suffer and die from a disease and the feelings of helplessness the family members feel," said Rep. Kirk. "I hope that my efforts on and off Capitol Hill will help to raise the level of awareness of this devastating disease."

To date, the CPF has provided more than $135,000 in support for the clinic to advance their efforts to better understand and treat PF. Specifically, the CPF has funded UC's study entitled the "Natural History of Interstitial Lung Diseases and PF." The study has enrolled approximately 350 patients and has meticulously gathered phenotypic data such as PFT data, demographics, medications, complete histories, 6 minute walk testing, pathology reports, and more. This study has since been coupled with clinical projects with bench work to allow for true translational research efforts, including $20,000 to fund a joint venture with Northwestern University exploring the impact of depression on PF.

Debbie Roney of Chicago serves as chair of the B.I.G. Ball event. Her husband, Roc Roney, has lost seven members of his family to pulmonary fibrosis and together they have worked with the CPF every year since its inception to help raise funds in the search for a cure.

Senator Durbin was a supporter of the successful passage of H.R. 178 in 2007, the first legislation to recognize PF and the urgent need for increased research funding and awareness for the disease and was the honorary chair of the B.I.G. Ball in 2005. The Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Enhancement Act (H.R. 6567) was introduced by Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA), who like Rep. Kirk, also lost his father to pulmonary fibrosis and vowed to his father to help people with the disease.

The 2008 B.I.G. Ball will be held at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel. The elegant black-tie (optional) event includes live entertainment, auctions and a delicious sit-down dinner. There will be a short program including presentations from representatives of the University of Chicago and the CPF.

The B.I.G. Ball begins at 6:30 pm and tickets are $175. For ticket information, contact the CPF at 1-888-222-8541 or visit

Background on IPF

About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)

IPF is a lung disorder characterized by a progressive scarring - known as fibrosis -- and deterioration of the lungs, which slowly robs its victims of their ability to breathe. Approximately 128,000 Americans suffer from IPF, and there is currently no known cause or cure. An estimated 48,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. IPF is difficult to diagnose and an estimated two-thirds of patients die within five years of diagnosis.

About the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis

The Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CPF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 2001 to accelerate research efforts leading to a cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), while educating, supporting, and advocating for the community of patients, families, and medical professionals fighting this disease. The CPF funds promising research into new approaches to treat and cure pulmonary fibrosis; provides patients and families with comprehensive education materials, resources, and hope; serves as a voice for national advocacy of IPF issues; and works to improve awareness of IPF in the medical community as well as the general public. The CPF's nonprofit partners include many of the most respected medical centers and healthcare organizations in the U.S. With more than 13,000 members nationwide, the CPF is the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. dedicated to advocating for those with pulmonary fibrosis. For more information please visit or call (888) 222-8541.

SOURCE Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis

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