On Track Against Asthma

Interesting to Know That:

  • Advair Diskus is a long-term, twice-daily preventive treatment for asthma in patients 12 years of age and older.
  • Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which inflammation and constriction cause the airways to narrow, leading to symptoms that include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
  • Each year, asthma accounts for 14 million missed school days and 14.5 million missed work days. In 2000, asthma cost the U.S. economy an estimated $14 billion.
  • Poorly controlled asthma accounts for approximately 5,000 deaths, 500,000
    hospitalizations and 2 million emergency department visits each year.

    NASCAR fans may have noticed something new on the outskirts of tracks this year. This rig doesn’t haul racing cars and teams nor does it open out into a souvenir stand or product supermarket.

    GlaxoSmithKline and Joe Gibbs Racing are co-sponsoring a touring trailer that is visiting more than 20 racetracks this season promoting the new asthma drug, Advair. The trailer is the keystone of the Racing Against Asthma program, an asthma education initiative designed to help bring information about asthma and effective asthma management to people nationwide.

    Race car driver Bobby Labonte, who has suffered from asthma since childhood, has also lent his support to the program and Advair.

    “I want this program to bring attention to the need for better awareness of the disease and available treatment options,” Labonte says. “Too many people don’t realize that they have asthma or think that it’s under control, when it isn’t.”

    Guests visiting the trailer can have their picture taken and then be digitally placed next to Labonte.

    “They come in and we take their picture,” says Larry Pitts, manager and driver of the tour. “We computer generate it, crop their head, then drop their head into a firesuit standing next to Bobby Labonte.”

    But the trailer is more about education than fun. National asthma treatment guidelines recommend a preventive approach to asthma management that can reduce the enormous impact on people’s lives.

    A lung function testing area allows visitors to blow into tubes to judge the capacity of their lungs. “The results come out on a sheet that they can take to their doctor,” Pitts says. “It helps determine how much air they can have inside their body. Doctors even come to the trailer on weekends to take questions.”

    Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Bobby Labonte both support the Racing Against Asthma program, which features a touring tractor-trailer that educates race fans about asthma and Advair.

    The trailer Pitts drives is no ordinary contraption. The 53-foot box expands hydraulically on both sides so that attendees can walk around inside it. Awnings are set up on the outside, allowing even more space.

    Under the awnings and around the outside of the trailer are interactive kiosks and literature about asthma. There are also collections sites for the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a place for children who are terminally ill. The camp is equipped for kids with special needs and should open in the summer of 2004. Fellow NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife Patty founded Victory Junction Gang Camp in memory of their son, Adam Petty, another driver, who died in a track accident. Bobby Labonte is a “huge sponsor,” so Pitts and his team take donations everywhere they stop. The tour also gives racegoers a chance to explore Labonte’s No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

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