'If you can't breathe, nothing else matters': LUNG FORCE Walk returns Sept. 16 at Cantigny Park

For the past 115 years, the American Lung Association has been working to improve lung health with education, advocacy, and research.

The goal isn't just to eliminate lung cancer, but to advocate for cleaner air and educate about the effects of smoking and diseases like COVID-19 and asthma.

The association offers a variety of programs to anyone who has been diagnosed with a lung disease, as well as support groups and programs aimed at young people in hopes they will take up the cause for healthy lungs.

To help fund these programs, as well as lung health research, the American Lung Association will hold its LUNG FORCE Walk Sept. 16 at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

"Walk, don't run to Cantigny Park in Wheaton on Sept. 16, and join us for the 2023 LUNG FORCE Walk, presented by Northwestern Medicine. This unique event not only raises awareness and funding for lifesaving research to help end all lung disease, but does it with a fun family-friendly flair," said Danielle Trojanek, executive director of the American Lung Association, Greater Chicago.

The event will be feature a 5K or 1.5-mile route on the Cantigny grounds and include a health and resource fest, flu shots, a kids zone and live music. For details or to register, visit

"We are so grateful for everyone who comes out to power-walk, strut or stroll along one of two beautiful paths in Cantigny Park," Trojanek said.

"Their efforts will support the Lung Association's mission to end lung cancer, lung disease and improve the air we breathe, plus support the more than one million people in the Chicagoland area who suffer lung disease."

Trojanek talks more about the association and the upcoming walk.

Q: What is the American Lung Association? Give a brief overview of what the organization does and who you serve.

A: The American Lung Association is the leading organization in the world working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy, and research.

We were founded over 115 years ago by a group of volunteers dedicated to ending tuberculosis, the biggest lung health threat at the time.

Now our work is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future.

And, thanks to our donors, volunteers, programs, event participants and staff, we are America's trusted source for lung health education.

Q: How many people do you serve each year?

A: More than 34 million Americans live with a chronic lung disease like asthma and COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

We have programs and services to help them, plus research, policies, and advocacy to help countless others, whether it be directly or indirectly.

Q: What are some of the programs you offer?

A: The Lung Association offers a variety of programs nationwide, especially here in the Chicagoland area. We offer free lung cancer screenings, virtual and in-home asthma assessments, youth tobacco cessation programs, quit smoking, e-cigarettes, and vaping resources and much more.

Q: Tell us about the upcoming LUNG FORCE Walk.

A: The American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE Walk, presented by Northwestern Medicine, is Saturday, Sept. 16, at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, and it's a fantastic way for people to literally step up to help end lung disease.

Participants will make their way along a 5K or 1.5-mile route that weaves inside the park to raise awareness and help save lives, plus it will also feature a new family health and resource fest. Here you'll find live music, a kids' zone play area courtesy of Luxe Dream Play, cotton candy, popcorn and face painting provided by Happy Jack's and more.

Plus, participants will receive oral health kits from Delta Dental and be able to get flu shots from CVS Health if you bring your insurance card.

The LUNG FORCE Walk family health and resource fest begins at 8:30 a.m. at Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, in Wheaton, and the walks begin at 10 a.m. Registration for the Sept. 16 event is completely free.

Those who register are asked to fundraise on their own or as a team. Or, anyone can make a donation online.

For more information, or to register for the event, visit

Q: How can readers help your organization?

A: There are tons of ways readers can get involved with the Lung Association. We have climb, walking and cycling events that you can participate in, form a team or be a volunteer. You can also DIY fundraise or, if you love dressing up and socializing, we have fundraising galas, too.

Our Better Breathers Clubs help people connect with each other through in-person and virtual support groups. Plus, we have a Youth and Young Adults in Action program that provides resources and information to become a lifelong lung health champion, while also engaging and empowering them to build, participate and live in a world free of lung disease.

Readers can visit for more information about any of these events or programs.

Q: What else would you like readers to know?

A: Every two and a half minutes, someone in the U.S. learns they have the disease. More than 1.8 million Illinoisans, including just over one million people in the greater Chicago area, suffer lung disease, and more than 9,000 across the state die from it each year.

Funds raised from the walk will help the Lung Association's efforts to achieve its goals to not only improve lung health, but also improve the lives of people right here in the Chicagoland area.

We appreciate all help because, in the end, if you can't breathe, nothing else matters!

Team JustBreatheForHolly takes part in last year's LUNG FORCE Walk at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. This year's event is Saturday, Sept. 16. Courtesy of Ted Pereda
Walkers in the 2022 LUNG FORCE Walk cross the finish line. Those who participate are asked to make a donation or fundraise for the American Lung Association. Courtesy of Ted Pereda
A walker honors their dad during the 2022 LUNG FORCE Walk at Cantigny Park. This year's event is Saturday, Sept. 16. Courtesy of Ted Pereda
Signs line the walking path during the 2022 LUNG FORCE Walk hosted by the American Lung Association. Courtesy of Ted Pereda
There are plenty of other activities to do during the annual LUNG FORCE Walk at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. In 2022, families could try their hand at a giant Operation game. Courtesy of Ted Pereda

2023 LUNG FORCE Walk

What: A 5K or 1.5-mile walk to benefit the American Lung Association

When: Event opens at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, with the walk starting at 10 a.m.

Where: Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, in Wheaton

Cost: Registration is free; participants are asked to fundraise individually or as a team.

Register: <a href=""></a>

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