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WATCH: IndyCar/NASCAR Driver Danica Patrick speaks about COPD and her racing season at The Henry Ford in Dearborn with interviews

 

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Wednesday, 10 August, 2011 11:37 AM

Danica Patrick discusses COPD, racing season at The Henry Ford

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Race car driver Danica Patrick speaks to about 200 of her fans inside The Henry Ford Museum on Aug. 8, 2011.

 

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

|

DEARBORN, Mich. -- IndyCar/NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver Danica Patrick spoke to a group of 200 fans at a free event on Monday inside the Henry Ford Museum's Anderson Theatre. The topic was COPD, which stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Patrick said she lost her grandmother to the disease. She also discussed her season this year along with past races on Detroit's Belle Isle and at Michigan International Speedway. In addition, the driver hopes the race will return to the island in the middle of the Detroit River for 2012.

"We started the campaign last February," Patrick said. "I had the opportunity to be a part of it and I jumped at the chance. Hopefully, other people will be able to enjoy their grandma or grandpa because it takes so many lives at a young age. My grandma was only 61. She left too early. Our mission is to be aware of the pinwheel and COPD as they are of the pink ribbon and breast cancer. It deserves that kind of attention and awareness. The campaign has been running for the last year."

Smoking as many as 100 cigarettes can cause an individual to get COPD. It is America's fourth leading cause of death. That is more than breast cancer and diabetes combined.

"My friend Sherry and I were the first ones in line at 5:45 this morning," said Charlene Skonieczry, an attendee from Farmington, Mich. "It's well worth it, she's a really great person. Danica is interactive with her fans and she talks with people. She answers all of your questions you have and she makes more women want to get interested in driving. I got my IndyCar [model] and her stand-up autographed. I have asthma and I get bronchitis, but I don't have the COPD. I'd like her to go full-time in NASCAR."

An estimated 24 million Americans may have COPD and may not know it. So far, over 1.9 million Americans have been screened for COPD, according to the Drive4COPD website.

"I got here at around 8 o'clock this morning," said Brenda Kaleto, an attendee from Dearborn, Mich. "I like what she stands for. My mother has COPD and its very close to my heart. We like her racing. We got her picture autographed today. My son wanted to see her and my daughter. I just told her my mother had COPD and I understood what she went through and how hard it was. My mother is losing weight like she said the symptoms were. My son said thank you for getting a picture with him. I would like to see her fully move into NASCAR."

Patrick also donated her racing suit and a pair of gloves that she wore during the Drive4COPD commercial to the museum's new Racing in America exhibit.

"We shot the campaign at Phoenix [International Raceway]," she explained. "These are some of the gloves that I've worn over the year. I promise I wore the gloves at least five times. We're happy to donate that. We're happy to bring awareness to this. It will add some racing flair. The pinwheel is everything what COPD is about and that's breathing. I'm sure you all can remember as kids you ran with them to make them to make them spin. Being able to breathe into a pinwheel and get it to spin is an accomplishment."

The IndyCar and NASCAR driver also answered questions from fans. One of the most popular questions was if she planned to move into NASCAR full time.

"Right now, I'm really focused on each and every weekend itself," the IndyCar driver responded. "I just got back from Mid-Ohio yesterday. I'm going to Loudon next weekend and then Montreal for the Nationwide series. I'm focusing on what my job is and that's to perform in the race car. It's the rest of the team's job to handle the business side of things. I'm just working through that."

Patrick said she enjoyed racing at MIS and believes the IndyCar race will return to Detroit's Belle Isle next year.

"I always thought that IndyCar put on an amazing show at the speedway here," the female race car driver explained. "I was disappointed to see that come off the schedule. But I was glad to be back in the Nationwide car. I didn't do great, but I was learning a lot at that point in time. I've come through to be a little bit better this year. I know from Mr. Penske's perspective how much work he put into it and how great of a person he is and how much he takes pride in the car business. I really thought it put on a pretty good race. Street courses can be pretty challenging to be a good one. There was lots of yellow flags and crashes and things happening. Maybe IndyCar will come back."

Country music stars Patty Loveless and Billy Ray Cyrus join Patrick as official celebrity ambassadors of Drive4COPD. They are all paid spokespeople of the founding sponsor.

"This is my first time at the museum," said attendee David Stralow of McBain, Mich. "I'm a big race fan. I got here at 8:30 this morning. My parents and family live near where she grew up in Illinois there. I kind of follow her with that. I keep an eye on her IndyCar series and stock car series to see how she does. No, I don't know anyone affected by COPD. I've been learning about it. I'd like to see her head towards NASCAR, do a limited schedule. I got a couple of 8 x 10s autographed. We went to the race last year in Michigan."

Ford Motor Co. joins 3M, DUANEreade, Health Net, Office Depot, Pfizer, Piedmont Hospital, Ralphs Pharmacy and Winn-Dixie as driving sponsors of Drive4COPD.

For more information about the COPD public health campaign, visit www.drive4copd.com.

Related Story: WATCH: Danica Patrick and Hot Wheels announce "Keys to Speed" promotion at MIS

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A public service announcement about COPD was shown on the big screen.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Patricia Mooradian, President of The Henry Ford, welcomed everyone to the special event.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A discussion between a representative from The Henry Ford and Danica Patrick.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

This was her second time at The Henry Ford Museum.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The female race car driver also responded to questions from the audience.

 

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