Free to Breathe Yoga Challenge raises money for lung cancer research

Posted at 5:44 PM, Aug 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-10 17:44:02-04

Christy Zdinak remembers her grandmother, Olive Kane, as a very strong woman, even in her final days battling lung cancer.

"It was tough but she was a trooper, she fought," said Zdinak.

Kane died of lung cancer in June 2016. Zdinak says while she knew the diagnosis was serious, she didn't know much else about lung cancer. Then she found Free to Breathe on social media.

"The only fortunate thing through this experience is I found out how underfunded [lung cancer] is and how much work we need to do to further research and further awareness for this disease," she said.

Free to Breathe is a national non-profit that funds lung cancer research. Its mission is to double the survival rate by 2022. Lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined, according to the American Cancer Society.

One of the group's biggest fundraisers is the Yoga Challenge. This year in Baltimore its being held at the Maryland Zoo.

Annie Truax is the regional events manager for the East Coast for Free to Breathe. She volunteered at the event last year in honor of her mother Pam, who died of lung cancer five years ago.

"My mom was incredible, she was very witty and had an incredible way with words," said Truax. "She was everyone's cheerleader."

Truax says helping to organize the event makes her feel like she is doing something to make a difference and help other families facing a lung cancer diagnosis.

"To have something I can tangibly put my energy into and see the numbers and the people come together as been really rewarding," she said.

Zdinak participated in last year's Yoga Challenge, just two months after her grandmother passed away. She says she was overwhelmed by the support.

"It was great to have that support. There was even an hour of yoga dedicated to my grandmother," she said. "I didn't realize how many other people were affected by lung cancer until I was affected myself.

The Free to Breathe Yoga Challenge is happening on Sunday August 20 at the Maryland Zoo. There is a deadline to register a team or as an individual for the main yoga session, which is August 16. You can also come by and check out the Wellness Village. For information on how to register and details on the event, click here.