Lovette Russell is a community activist, philanthropist, and a double lung transplant survivor who is heavily involved in raising money for awareness and research. After being diagnosed with scleroderma and pulmonary fibrosis, she remembers relying on oxygen 24 hours a day. She now feels like she has a second chance at life.
Since then, the health advocate has helped the American Lung Association raise $45,000 through their Fight For Air Climb initiative which will host its annual event on May 20 at the Promenade Tower in Atlanta.
Russell shared more about the upcoming event and how she overcame her lung health journey.
How did you raise $45,000 for the American Lung Association through “Fight For Air Climb?”
It is the American Lung Association’s way of raising money, but also doing some advocacy for lungs. They do it every year all over the nation and they choose a high-rise building in all these cities. The goal is to climb from the first flight of stairs up to the very top. It requires some sweat equity, but you get to raise money for the Lung Association. You also get to make others aware of lung issues, what the American Lung Association does, and why you should support them. Everybody that puts a team together or everyone that does the race can go out and raise money from their peers and support group. I worked hard and I raised $45,000. In the last 12 years … they’ve raised $71 million. So clearly, doing this helps to fund a lot of things that they do.
As a double lung transplant survivor, how did you get through that psychologically?
It makes you think about your life. Fortunately, I have had a blessed life. I’ve done so many things that I wanted to accomplish, I felt good about where I was, but there were many other things I still wanted to accomplish. Mentally, I was very strong just to do the triathlons I participated in. You had to have great discipline physically and mentally. Fortunately, that part was there but it made you think about your mortality more. I got to the point where they gave me two months to live on the lungs that I had because it took a long time for me to find a match to get the lungs. The usual wait in the area of the country I was in [was] seven months, I was on month eighteen. Then you think about your life and the people around you. I was blessed to have a great support system. I just felt like however things turned out would be for the best. When you are sick, you say to yourself “God, if you make me better, I promise I’ll do A, B, C.”‘ I’m now walking the walk, and I’m not just talking. I have this great perspective on life. For one, I do not sweat the small stuff because there are so many other major things that can go on in your life, and it just helps me to appreciate every single day.