The Lunch Bunch

August 6th, 2010 | Author: Katelyn Turner

What’s better than getting together with friends over good food and good conversation?

Well, in the case of the Florida COPD Lunch Bunch, they add in some education and have themselves an afternoon of meeting up with friends, old and new, educating each other about COPD and engaging in conversation on the disease that connects them.

Bob Sobkowiak

This past week, the group gathered in Lakeland, Florida and ate good (homemade!) food, listened to a presentation from Bob Sobkowiak, volunteer for the COPD Foundation, and engaged in a demonstration from Nick Jones and wife Jan, both from the support group Airheads, on proper breathing exercises.

Karen Deitemeyer, a member and ambassador for the state of Florida for EFFORTS, and Hilde Hanson—also from EFFORTS—organized the “loose-knit group that represents a lot of COPDers.”

“It’s very casual. Hilde and I plan the get-togethers, and it’s just a lunch for people to meet and know they’re not alone [with COPD],” Deitemeyer says.

The group of 12 consisted of a mixture of members from organizations like the COPD Foundation, EFFORTS, COPD-Support, and COPD-International.

Sobkowiak, a Registered Respiratory Therapist, says he was very impressed with the group of people.

“It was an opportunity for us to connect as patients representing different geopgraphic areas of the state, and was also a great chance for us to come together for community lung health purposes and desires,” he says.

Jones is President of the COPD support group Airheads (which is also part of the Better Breathers group from the American Lung Association) from the retirement community The Villages.

Together with his wife, they showed the group breathing and relaxation exercises. “

We had everyone partake in it and they enjoyed it immensely,” Jones says. “Then, it got into my transtracheal procedure and everyone was extremely interested in [talking about] that. Other discussions we had were about POCs, traveling and cruises who cater to people that are on oxygen.”

Jones says the diverse group of people, from patients to caregivers, helped everyone understand each other’s fears and concerns in a “much better environment.”

Although Jones says most people drove over two hours to attend the meeting, it was well worth it, and most of the group wants to visit The Villages and meet the Airheads.

These are the kinds of activities that COPDers can do anywhere. Deitemeyer encourages anyone interested in either her group or forming their own to email her for tips and advice on how to get involved and started.

The date for the next meeting hasn’t been set yet, but Deitemeyer encourages anyone who wants to come to email her at

“The main thing is, I want everyone to know they’re not alone, and there’s a lot of support groups for COPD,” Deitemeyer says.

Sobkowiak says he appreciated the support of the group and felt as though it would lead to a lot more collaboration in the future.

“There was definitely an openness and a desire to work together down the road,” he says. “There was just such a wonderful response to it all.”

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