New York Yankees legend Bernie Williams is honoring his father by joining the Sin Aliento campaign to encourage people who may have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) to seek early diagnosis and treatment. Williams’ father had IPF for several years before passing away in 2001.
The Puerto Rico-born baseball star appears in a video on the campaign’s website sharing the story of his father’s struggle with the disease.
“Whether I was in centerfield or at bat, my dad was always my biggest fan,” Williams said in a press release. “He seemed invincible. So when he was finally diagnosed with IPF after battling symptoms like breathlessness and a debilitating cough that persisted for many months, it was devastating to me and my family. Sharing my dad’s story is so important because it will help others get the answers they need sooner and easier.”
IPF is estimated to affect 132,000 Americans, with about 50,000 new diagnoses each year.
An article published in the The Lancet titled, “Idiopahic Pulmonary fibrosis in US medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older: incidence, prevalence, and survival, 2001-11” notes that the Hispanic population in the U.S. has a 15% higher incidence rate of IPF than the general population.
Williams is urging the public to get involved by sharing videos and educational content in Spanish on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, with the hashtag #SinAliento.
IPF patients can also get monthly information in Spanish via email or text messages by signing up with the Sin Aliento program on the campaign’s website.
The former Yankee slugger teamed up with pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim to carry out the campaign.
“Boehringer Ingelheim is proud to partner with baseball legend Bernie Williams who can speak personally about how IPF affected his dad and his family,” Boehringer Ingelheim Vice President Al Masucci said. “Through the Sin Aliento campaign, we hope to educate people to recognize the signs of the disease and take action to see a doctor as early as possible. It is important that a correct medical diagnosis is determined as IPF is often misdiagnosed.”