Michael Litwinka was a happy, fun-loving 13 year-old-boy, like any other boy his age. “He was an outgoing child and immersed his life with kindness, love, and humor. Michael loved to laugh and he loved to make others laugh,” said Norlean Litwinka, Michael’s mother. Michael was all of these things, and more, until Sept. 21, 2011, the day that he collapsed on the coffee table in his home and took his last breath.
Norlean Litwinka was just arriving home from Michael’s parent-teacher conferences when Michael suffered his final asthma attack. She gave Michael CPR, which was continued by the police officer who arrived on the scene. As soon as the Emergency Medical Team arrived, life-saving efforts were continued, but to no avail. Michael died shortly after he arrived at the hospital.
Michael suffered from severe asthma all of his life. More than seven million children in the United States are living with moderate to severe asthma, and Connecticut has some of the highest rates in the country. Asthma triggers can be completely different from one person to the next; as an asthma sufferer, it is important to understand triggers, in order for disease management to be implemented. On average, eleven people die from asthma or asthma-related complications every day in the United States. Additionally, African-Americans have the highest asthma mortality rate, and are three times more likely to die from the disease. Many of these deaths are avoidable with proper treatment.
“I knew that I had to do something in Michael’s honor. The thought of a road race to increase asthma awareness and asthma research came to my mind. Michael loved running. He ran for the Vernon Track Club when we lived in Vernon, Connecticut. He would have run on the Naugatuck High School Cross Country Team and Naugatuck High School Track Team,” said Norlean in a letter to the American Lung Association.
The second-annual Michael Litwinka Memorial Run/5K will be held on Sunday, May 12, in Naugatuck. Registration will begin at noon at Cook’s Café, 203 Church Street. The route covers 3.1 miles throughout the Naugatuck Valley. Cooks Café will host the after party and awards ceremony, immediately following the event. Proceeds from the Michael Litwinka Memorial 5K benefit the American Lung Association in the Northeast, specifically asthma-related research, programs and awareness. A route map, as well as all event information, is available at www.LungNE.org/events.
Last year, more than 650 attended the first annual Michael Litwinka Memorial Run/5K. Participants are encouraged to register early, as spots fill up quickly. Adult registration costs just $20 and increases to $25 on event day. Registration for students from 12-18 is $10 and children under the age of 12 pay just $5 to be part of the Kid’s Fun Run, starting at 2 p.m. Incentive prizes are offered to those who raise more than $150.
Sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Lisa Wrubleski at firstname.lastname@example.org (860) 838-4377 with any questions, or to register or make a donation that could save lives.
About the American Lung Association of the Northeast
The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT.www.LungNE.org
Note: The above press release comes from Elizabeth DiMartino of the American Lung Association of the Northeast