When Harry Collins was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2011, he was given six months to live; but thanks to a lung transplant, he has been given a second chance at life.
The Christiansburg councilman has taken his new lease to help others who have had lung transplants by working with the Lung Transplant Foundation Virginia Chapter.
“This is an organization that raises money for research to try and find a cure for rejection,” he said. “Fifty percent of lung transplant recipients die within five years from chronic rejection.”
In addition to giving speeches on COPD, Collins, 65, started a charity motorcycle ride in 2016 that helps raise money for the foundation. Over 100 riders participated in this year’s event, which raised nearly $3,400, almost tripling last year’s total.
The 100-mile ride started at the Texas Roadhouse in Christiansburg and went through Blacksburg all the way to New Castle and back. Collins said that he was impressed with how many people came out, especially on such a hot day.
“We appreciate everyone who came out and supported the event this. It’s overwhelming to think about how many people came out and supported us,” he said.
The proceed from the area will got towards lung rejection research (40 percent) and to people in the area (60 percent) according to the event flyer.
Collins said that the event would not have been possible without Michelle Taylor, who works at the Waffle House in Christiansburg.
“I knew I wanted to do something like this, but wasn’t sure how to get it going, but Michelle knew exactly what to do,” Collins said. “She has been great.”
Once riders returned to Texas Roadhouse, they were treated to a BBQ lunch that the restaurant donated for the event. The Christiansburg Rescue Squad supplied the tables and chairs for the picnic.
Collins said that one of the highlights of the day for him was when his friend Lyle Gardner, who also works at the Waffle House, sang the national anthem before the ride began.
“He did a great job, he said. “It was awesome.”
For more information about the foundation or how to help, visit lungtransplantfoundation.org.