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Michael Strahan is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, as few defensive ends in the sport were more skilled or dominant on the field. Inspired by his uncle’s struggle with the debilitating disease he decided to pitch in and help.

Michael’s  Uncle Bud struggled to breathe and wore an oxygen mask in the last years of his life due to complications of emphysema, a form of COPD. That’s why partnering with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. on this public health initiative is so important to Michael. Now he can tell others what he wishes his uncle Bud had known: screening and early detection of COPD are key because there are steps you can take to breathe better.

National health initiative DRIVE4COPD today announced the launch of its new Ambassador Program, which gives fans the opportunity to join their favorite celebrity in a common cause: raising awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Ambassador Program marks the beginning of the Great American Screen Off, a nationwide push this fall to screen Americans for their risk of COPD at DRIVE4COPD.COM. Fans can now enter the  DRIVE4COPD Celebrity Race Team’s* ongoing competition to see who can screen the most people.

Launched in February 2010, DRIVE4COPD aims to raise awareness of COPD and encourage people  to take a brief, five-question screener at DRIVE4COPD.COM to see if they might be at risk and talk to  their doctor about their results. COPD is a chronic disease that makes it harder and harder to breathe. To date more than 200,000 people have been screened through the campaign. “The DRIVE4COPD campaign has been to community events across the country and we keep hearing that people want to help us get word out about COPD. The Ambassador Program makes it easy for   people to join us,” said Pro Football great, Michael Strahan, whose uncle struggled with COPD. “This disease kills more people than breast cancer and diabetes combined, so don’t wait – join my team. The more people who get involved, the more lives we’ll touch.”

Strahan is joined by fellow DRIVE4COPD Celebrity Race Team Members – Go Daddy and NASCAR Nationwide Series™ Driver Danica Patrick, Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner and Grammy Award winning country music star Patty Loveless. Each Race Team member has lost a loved one to COPD and has seen first-hand the impact of this disease. Together, they are working toward a collective goal of getting 1 million people screened and are calling on their fans to join this cause.

Joining a Race Team

The web-based DRIVE4COPD Ambassador Program provides people with the tools they need to spread the word about COPD to their friends and loved ones who may be at risk. Ambassadors can sign up to support their favorite participating DRIVE4COPD Celebrity Race Team Member at DRIVE4COPD.COM where they can access e-mails and messages to help encourage friends and family who are 35 and older to get screened to see if they may be at risk and take action.  The DRIVE4COPD Ambassadors will join the team of their favorite celebrity and pledge the screeners they complete to be added to that team’s tally. Ambassadors can enter for a chance to win a two-day/ one-night trip to a DRIVE4COPD screening event on November 4, 2010 and meet a Celebrity Race.

{For more from Oretha Winston follow her on Twitter}

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