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Asthma, Martin Luther King and the Beatles

Media Release

29 April 2004

What do asthma, Martin Luther King and the Beatles have in common?

It's 1964 - Martin Luther King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Beatles are touring the United States, chemotherapy is used for the first time in the treatment of cancer, the Cook Strait power cables are laid and Auckland's population reaches half a million. It is such an inspirational year that the Lake City Athletic Club established the first Rotorua Marathon (held in 1965) and the first asthma society is formed, in Lower Hutt.

Forty years on and the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is again celebrating its anniversary alongside the Fletcher Challenge Forest Marathon in Rotorua - as one of the event's official charities - and the circle is complete.

"The Foundation pays tribute to the commitment and foresight of a group of people who saw a need and took some remarkable action by creating the first of many support groups for people with asthma," says Jane Patterson, Foundation Executive Director.

From this single society, a network of societies quickly developed nationwide with the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation as the national body that continues to play an important role given the significant and growing numbers of New Zealanders with a respiratory condition (an estimated 800,000 people in New Zealand).

"We congratulate Fletcher Challenge Forests - now Tenon Limited - for sponsoring this important and iconic New Zealand sporting fixture celebrating its 40th year," says Ms Patterson speaking about the event that takes place on Saturday, 1st May.

"The Foundation has a 30 member team made up of Foundation staff and their families, volunteers, friends, and supporters. Our youngest team member is only 10 years old and one of the most notable and inspiring is Gary Judd who is running the marathon."

At age 43 Gary will be repeating an event he took part in 22 years ago, only this time he will be doing so with only one lung.

"I had a lung and half my bronchial tube removed in 1995 because of cancerous tumours which might seem to put me at a disadvantage to say the least, but I know I can run okay," says Gary.

"It's just a question of how well I shape up against people who have a whole respiratory system. Personally, I don't see why I can't be competitive in my age group but I really don't have any idea of what time I'm capable of at this stage."

Gary says he has tried to find out information on other marathon runners and athletes who have done the same thing or similar, but has come up short.

"When I tell people that I'm training for it they get quite surprised knowing my medical background. So I'm curious to know just what physiological comparison can be made between an athlete with one lung and one with two."

Despite having a health setback in February - with only one lung, chest infections are much more dangerous and are harder to recover from - Gary is really looking forward to this event.

Ms Patterson says that the Foundation staff and supporters will be cheering for Gary and the other team members on Saturday.

“We will be the ones in the purple t-shirts that have been generously sponsored by Dyson. The support and commitment shown by Dyson to promote long-term solutions and better outcomes for people with respiratory conditions is greatly appreciated by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation,” says Ms Patterson.

With this same spirit of generosity Dyson has also donated a Dyson DC05 Motorhead vacuum cleaner, as one of the prizes for the Marathon raffle that will benefit all five official charities. ENDS


Jane Patterson ph 04 499 4592 Executive Director mob 021 237 332 Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

Gary Judd ph 03 981 2078 - at home ph 03 343 5555 - at work

Gary will be available for comment on these two phone numbers. He will not be available for comment at these numbers over the weekend.

For media present in Rotorua please stop by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation's stand in the marquee on the Village Green for photo opportunities and interviews with staff, volunteers and team members.

For the Rotorua Marathon Angus Napier mob 021 413 210 Jason Cameron mob 0274 465 273

Brett Avery ph 09 526 1931 Dyson New Zealand Distributor


One in four New Zealand children have asthma. Asthma is the most common cause of child hospital admissions. One in six New Zealanders are affected by asthma. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world.

It is estimated that asthma costs New Zealand $825 million per year in direct and indirect costs. 1 in every 200 deaths is due to asthma. It is estimated that 300 million people worldwide have asthma. Rates of asthma and COPD are expected to rise over the next two decades. Over 200,000 people in New Zealand are estimated to have COPD.

Only about 1 in 4 or 5 have had their COPD condition accurately diagnosed. In New Zealand, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death after cancer, ischaemic heart disease and stroke. The direct health care costs associated with COPD are estimated to be at least $192 million per year.

Hospitalisations due to COPD each year are projected to rise from 9250 in 1999, to 12,000 by 2007 and 14,700 in 2012. COPD may now be one of the leading causes of death and disability in New Zealand.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of NZ (Inc.) is a non-governmental charitable organisation that provides education, information, advocacy and research on asthma and other respiratory conditions. All of our resources are free to download from


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