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Plainfield Woman Works to Defeat Disease that Claimed Her Father

Kathy Petrak will co-chair the Oct. 13 Breathe Benefit in Chicago.

After losing her father to the disease, a Plainfield woman is fighting back against pulmonary fibrosis.

Kathy Petrak is co-chairperson of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation’s Oct. 13 Breathe Benefit, a black tie-optional benefit at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.

Petrak has devoted herself to raising money for research and working to make people aware of the disease, which claimed her dad, Bill Pacella, in March 2009.

“I got involved right after he passed away,” Petrak said.

A stay-at-home mom to three girls, Petrak has been involved with the Chicago-based Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation for more than three years.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease affecting more than 200,000 Americans, Petrak said.

“Over a period of time, the lung tissue becomes scarred and turns into scar tissue,” she said. “There is absolutely no treatment and there is absolutely no cure.”

But the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation is working to change that.

The organization provides support programs for patients and caregivers, along with working to raise awareness and fund research to fight the disease.

“It actually is more common than you would think,” Petrak said, adding sufferers are often misdiagnosed.

The life expectancy of patients diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis is two to five years, she added, noting that the disease claims 40,000 victims every year — as many as breast cancer.

“Really, a patient’s only hope is a double lung transplant, and those are few and far between,” Petrak said.

Oct. 13 event

The Breathe Benefit, set for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Drake, is a chance for area residents to help those battling the disease.

Mary Ann Ahern of NBC 5 is slated to be the event’s emcee.

Tickets are $250 each and include a three-course meal.

The event will include guest speakers and more than 40 silent auctions including all-inclusive trips to Mexico and the Florida Keys and signed memorabilia from the Chicago Blackhawks, White Sox and and Cubs.

“This is the first Breathe Benefit, and they’re making it an annual event,” Petrak said.

To purchase tickets, call 888-733-6741 or click here.

For more information, visit the 2012 Breathe Benefit website.

Jennifer Bulandr September 19, 2012 at 02:20 PM
We are thrilled to have Kathy Petrak serve as the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation's co-chair for this year's Breathe Benefit: 2012. Kathy brings a level of enthusiasm and commitment to the PFF that is inspiring. Jennifer Bulandr Director, Community Affairs Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
CMT September 19, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Kathy - Your dedication and involvement is a beautiful tribute to your dad. Wishing you all much success with the Gala.

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