East Texas woman survives lung disease; seeks to help others

MINEOLA (KYTX) – Gina Phelps survived lung disease but knows the pain associated with that illness. Her dad and a family friend died in 2013 from pulmonary complications. Now the survivor wants to help others in East Texas.

Phelps is donating the more than $4,000 she raised to the Trinity Mother Frances Foundation for use in TMFHC's Pulmonary Rehab Program on August 27.  Phelps and her community partners held a number of fundraisers throughout the Mineola area over the last months in honor of her dad, Bernie Adams and his friend Hamlet "Frog" Sharp, who both passed away from lung-related issues six weeks apart in 2013.

"My dad was always at Trinity Mother Frances while being treated for his pulmonary problems," said Phelps. "So we were looking for a way to make a donation in their honor and ensure the funds were used locally."

Phelps took the initiative and organized several fundraisers in the Mineola area in conjunction with the VFW Ladies Auxiliary Post 7523, based around a Facebook group, The East Texas Lung Rangers. The fundraisers have raised just over $4,000 for donation to Trinity Mother Frances' Pulmonary Rehabilitation program.

"We held a series of fundraisers including a bake sale, a barbecue dinner and even a karaoke night," said Phelps. "We sold t-shirts and held a raffle, as well. It was a great effort by many friends and family members on behalf of my dad and Mr. Sharp."

Phelps has been inspired by her father and friend to not only raise funds in their honor to improve the lives of others, but also to improve her own health and life. A pulmonary patient herself, Phelps was suffering from many of the same issues and being forced to take multiple medications. It was her father's wish that she turn her life in a healthier direction, and so she began improving her pulmonary health through exercise and lifestyle changes. In the past 12 months, Phelps has lost over 100 pounds and is running almost 20 miles per week.

"She made a promise to her father that she would do something to help others struggling with pulmonary disease. She's a young mother trying to make a difference in the lives of others – trying to raise awareness of pulmonary disease and the struggles of people here in East Texas," said Debbie Germany, CRT/RCP, Coordinator of Pulmonary Rehab at Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics. "We are thankful for her drive and determination, and we will ensure these funds are used to help people right here in East Texas struggling with pulmonary disease."

"People in East Texas struggle with pulmonary problems regularly, and so it was important to me to be able to contribute in a way that I knew would directly impact people here in East Texas, people like my father, who was in treatment at Trinity Mother Frances," said Phelps.

Phelps will complete her efforts in October when she takes part in the Tyler Half Marathon on October 5, at the Rose Garden Center.


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