The Chicago Fire, the FireWorks for Kids Foundation -- the Fire's charitable arm -- and the American Lung Association of Illinois have again teamed up again in 2004 to help combat lung disease. Since the start of its partnership with the American Lung Association in 1998 -- during the Fire's inaugural campaign -- the Chicago Fire has reached out to approximately 70,000 kids in Chicagoland in helping promote tobacco awareness. Moreover, the Fire has contributed over $50,000 to the American Lung Association of Illinois.
"The partnership between the Chicago Fire and the American Lung Association since 1998 has been a model partnership impacting positively on children's lives by promoting awareness of tobacco prevention and asthma issues," said Donald Ortale, director of community relations for the Chicago Fire and CEO of the FireWorks for Kids Foundation. "The synergy between the Chicago Fire, the FireWorks for Kids Foundation and the American Lung Association is unparalleled. We'll continue our relationship for the foreseeable future and we expect to continue to work together to impact the lives of others."
The Centers for Disease Control, Office on Smoking and Health, reported that during 2003, 21.9 percent of high school students smoked cigarettes, down from 36.4 percent in 1997. Through its partnership with the American Lung Association, Chicago Fire players have helped educate children on the dangers of smoking while promoting healthy lifestyles, such as soccer and other sports. The lively, 50-minute presentation offers information on asthma management, smoking cessation and fire safety.
For the third consecutive year, the American Lung Association will honor a Fire player with the Educator of the Year Award, given to the player who was most effective delivering the message on tobacco prevention and awareness in the classroom. This year, the player will be recognized during the Fire-DC United match on Saturday, Sept. 4 at Soldier Field.
"As the American Lung Association celebrates 100 years of fighting lung disease, we are grateful for the generous support of the Chicago Fire," said Tad Schlake, senior manager at the American Lung Association in Illinois and Iowa. "This year we have combined resources to provide school assemblies to over 6,000 children in the Chicagoland area. High quality programs presented through partnering organizations like the Chicago Fire are helping to make a difference in reducing teen smoking and raising awareness on other health-related issues."
The number of people reported to have asthma is increasing to 20.3 million Americans, including 6.3 million children under the age of 18. With over 5,000 deaths each year from asthma in the United States, the information on asthma management is all the more vital. The programs conducted with the Chicago Fire and the American Lung Association help to provide needed information on asthma awareness and management.
Other American Lung Association programs sponsored by the Chicago Fire include the Camp Superkids, an asthma camp for children, the annual Asthma Walk and the Lake Tour Bike Trek. For more information on the American Lung Association's programs, please visit www.lungil.org.
The Chicago Fire was founded on October 8, 1997 as a Major League Soccer expansion team. In 2003 the Fire was crowned the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Champion for the third time in team history, while also capturing the Eastern Conference title and its first MLS Supporters' Shield. The Fire won the MLS Cup in its inaugural season in 1998 and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 1998 and 2000. It was crowned Central Division Champion in 2000 and 2001.