Ryan O’Donnell’s Charity Yoga Event To Raise Awareness of Pulmonary Fibrosis

One of the great rewards of writing about North Kingstown is getting to know its talented community members.  Some of our community members have owned businesses for years, while others contribute by volunteering their time with a worthy charity.  And in the past year, I have gotten to know some of our very talented youth from North Kingstown High School.  It has been a great honor to help support and promote the efforts of the senior class of North Kingstown High School and their very important senior projects.

The latest community member that I would like to introduce you to is North Kingstown High School Senior Ryan O’Donnell.  Ryan has a very special project and event he would like to share with the North Kingstown community.  I had the great fortune of getting to know more about his senior project on Pulmonary Fibrosis and here is an excerpt from our conversation.

First off, tell me what you decided to do for your senior project?

For my senior project I am hosting a yoga class to help raise awareness for Pulmonary Fibrosis and lung diseases.

And what drew you to this project Ryan?

While researching, the effects of Pulmonary Fibrosis and other similar pulmonary diseases, I noticed one consistency as the disease progresses breathing becomes harder. I was astonished at this because it is something we take for granted every day.

Okay, where was the research on Pulmonary Fibrosis derived from?  What medical journal (s) or trusted web source (s) did you use to learn more about the symptoms and treatment of Pulmonary Fibrosis?

My research was predominantly derived from the American Lung Association and Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. I used these sources to gain an understanding of pulmonary diseases in general, like Chronic Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Pneumonia, and Pulmonary Fibrosis. During my research I found that the warning signs of all these diseases had many similarities such as shortness of breath, wheezing, a chronic cough, and chronic chest pain. Perhaps the most important similarity among them was that as they all progressed, the more strain was put on your lungs making it harder to breath. In order to verify the similarities, I used mayoclinic.org and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

What are the characteristics of Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary Fibrosis means scarring of the lungs. As the scar tissue in your lungs builds up on the air sacs’ wall in your lungs the passage of oxygen becomes harder. The most common symptoms are shortness of breath and a dry, hacking cough. However, over time you can develop rapid and shallow breathing, gradual and unintended weight loss, and aching muscles and joints.

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Is it the same as asthma or different?

Pulmonary Fibrosis and Asthma are not the same thing. Although they have many similarities in symptoms. Pulmonary Fibrosis is believed to be caused by both heredity and environmental causes. However, in most cases the doctors cannot determine what is the cause of it. Asthma is similar in that case. The lungs of someone with Asthma becomes inflamed and the passage of air is harder than normal. When someone has Pulmonary Fibrosis the lung has a buildup of scar tissue in the air sacs that make the passage of air difficult. Often those suffering from Pulmonary Fibrosis use an oxygen tank to assist in their breathing.

How is it diagnosed, to your knowledge?  Blood work, an MRI, a chest X-Ray?

Pulmonary Fibrosis is usually diagnosed after a patient has shown some of the symptoms and had a chest X-ray. The chest X-rays may show the buildup of scar tissue but sometimes it does not. In those cases where it does not show anything, the patient may have to undergo a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan.

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How has the American Lung Association helped you with your project?

I interviewed Audrey Sylvia, who is the National Assistant Vice President for the American Lung Association. I conducted this interview through email and Ms. Sylvia sent my questions to her team. The American Lung Association has provided me valuable information on how those suffering from lung disease can combat the cold weather,  how to get involved, and how important raising awareness is key in diagnosing patients.

What was it about this particular disorder’s symptons that led you do an event involving yoga?

I had four aunts and uncles pass away from this disease when I was younger and I was always curious to learn more about this disease because they believe it is a hereditary disease. When I was first brainstorming ideas for my senior project, I noticed a lot of my peers did not know what this disease was. Originally, my plan for my senior project was to generate awareness among young adults and teens.  What drove me to yoga was a conversation I had with my two older sisters. For years, they have been trying to convince me to attend  a class with them and in a conversation we had in November they were talking about different breathing exercises they did in a particular class. Then one of them told me I should see if Rhode Island Power Yoga would host a class for my senior project. After reaching out to Mrs. Renee Deslauriers we both decided it was a great idea and opportunity to help raise awareness while also, help raise money for the American Lung Association.

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The breathing required in yoga is very beneficial for not only yoga but everyday living.  Was this why you chose a yoga type program for your project?

Yes. By choosing a yoga type program for my project I felt like I could not only raise awareness for Pulmonary Fibrosis and other lung diseases but, help those who attend gain valuable exercises to strengthen their lungs and have an “Awareness on Breath.”

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How long is the class on April 2nd?  Do people need to bring anything to class?  Are you accepting donations at the class?

The class on April 2nd will be about an hour long starting at 6:30 p.m. If people are attending the event and own a yoga mat it is encouraged they bring it with them. I will be selling tickets to the event for $10 because of the limited space at the studio (70 people). All the proceeds of the event will be donated to the American Lung Association. If anyone is interested in purchasing a ticket they can contact me at ryan_odonnell@students.nksd.net.
Ryan, great to meet you and fantastic answers to my questions.  This is an incredible project you are working on and I wish you the very best in your event!!!
Rhode Island Power Yoga is located in the Stop and Shop Plaza next to Starbucks at 1360 Ten Rod Rd.  Their studio can be reached at 401-500-5168 or by emailing them at info@rhodeislandpoweryoga.com.  Stay tuned to the North Kingstown Blog to learn more about RI Power Yoga in an upcoming community blog.  

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