November 23, 2010 >> back to issue

N.M. Family Hosts Inaugural Event in Memory of Loved One

Dr. Garcia and his wife CarolDr. Garcia and his wife Carol The Inaugural J. Patrick Garcia Memorial Breathe Easy took place the weekend of November 6-7 in Albuquerque, N.M. The event consisted of a walk/run on Nov. 6 and a luncheon and reception on Nov. 7. The Breathe Easy was originally created to honor Dr. J. Patrick Garcia, a PH patient of five years who was also diagnosed with a stage four malignant brain tumor in September. Dr. Garcia was a tremendous advocate in the PH community. By hosting the Breathe Easy, his family sought to acknowledge his personal efforts and also raise funds for PH research and support.

Jason Garcia, Dr. Garcia’s son and Breathe Easy organizer, executed the planning with the support of his family in a mere six weeks. The collaborative effort of the Garcia family, including Jason’s sister Jacqueline, aunt Mary, mother Veronica and stepmother Carol, is truly what made organizing the event in such a short period of time possible. Unfortunately, a lack of time also affected the family in a much graver sense. When planning first began in mid-September, the hope was that Dr. Garcia would be able to attend the Breathe Easy events and participate as much as his health allowed. Tragically, this hope could not be realized.

On September 28, 2010, Dr. Garcia passed away from complications from the brain tumor. While the loss came shockingly soon, the Garcias did not succumb to their grief. The Breathe Easy became a memorial event in which the family invested their energy in order to honor and remember Dr. Garcia. They rallied support from additional family members, friends, their local community and the PH community. Their determination to make an impact in the fight against PH and continue Dr. Garcia’s legacy resulted in seven corporate sponsorships totaling more than $8,000 and individual donations of more than $5,000.

The outcome of the family’s hard work extended far beyond monetary achievements; the Breathe Easy was momentous in all accounts. The lunch/reception boasted approximately 130 people and included an award ceremony for PH patients and their families. Keynote speaker, Dr. Franz Rischard, a PH Specialist from the University of Arizona-Tucson, gave a powerful presentation and Carol Garcia, widow of Dr. Garcia, also spoke. Additionally, New Mexico State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino presented a proclamation designating November as Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month in the state.

The 2010 Breathe Easy may be behind them, but the Garcias don’t plan to stop here. The family intends to make the Breathe Easy an annual fundraiser to continue raising awareness and support for PH. Given the success of this year’s event amidst significant challenges and adversity, we can only imagine what the Garcia family will accomplish in 2011!

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