The Telegraph | American Lung Association ambassador Jaris Waide, of Godfrey, on awareness roll

GODFREY — A community building award followed this year’s enormously successful asthma awareness “Alphabet Walk” for its organizer and founder, punctuating the depth and breadth of her work.

Also an American Lung Association Lung Health Hero Award recipient, Jaris Waide, of Godfrey, recently received Alton’s Franklin Lodge No. 25’s Community Building Award, for which Waide said she was honored and humbled. Yet, her biggest accomplishment, related to the award, is achieving above and beyond her fundraising goals each year for the American Lung Association.

Waide began 18 years ago organizing the annual American Lung Association (ALA) Asthma Awareness and Education Walk, for which Waide’s walk team is known as the “ALA Alphabet Team.” Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick regularly proclaims the day of the May walk as Asthma Awareness Day in the village of Godfrey. This year’s walk was held May 6 — always the first Saturday in May at Godfrey’s Glazebrook Park.

Waide’s team represents the American Lung Association’s top Southwest Illinois fundraising team. Working vigorously to combat asthma after she suffered an asthma attack 19 years ago on March 28, 1998, Waide forged a plan to raise asthma awareness, especially among youth. The attack caused a traumatic brain injury and left Waide suddenly disabled while living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, working as a telecommunications company corporate executive.

With the American Lung Association, Waide made a 26-year commitment — “A” through “Z” — as leader of the Alphabet Team, founding the annual American Lung Association walk. She highlights healthcare issues, along with being a passionate advocate for the blind, visually-impaired and disabled populations; she herself is legally blind.

She began volunteering for the American Lung Association as a Children’s Lung Hero and Children’s Ambassador, being especially passionate about educating children.

Funds raised by Waide’s team over the past few…

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