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AARC Meets Up with 24M Monument at the Texas State Fair

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October 13, 2011

AARC COO and Associate Executive Director Thomas Kallstrom, MBA, RRT, FAARC, addressed a VIP crowd gathered for the unveiling of the DRIVE4COPD campaign’s 24M monument at the State Fair of Texas last week, using the occasion to explain why the AARC is so committed to early detection and treatment of the condition and introducing the monument’s sculptor, renowned artist Michael Kalish, to the audience.

Tom Kallstrom Interview

Kallstrom is interviewed by a local CBS affiliate about COPD, the AARC, and 24M project.

“Since February 2010, AARC has been a part of DRIVE4COPD, working to raise awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” he said. “Michael is helping expand DRIVE4COPD into a new area by raising awareness through his art.

As the title of the piece suggests, 24M: THE DRIVE4COPD MONUMENT is intended to represent the 24 million Americans thought to be suffering from COPD, half of them currently undiagnosed.

AARC Times Editor Marsha Cathcart was at the unveiling as well and had the opportunity to interview Kalish about the monument and how he got involved in the DRIVE4COPD campaign.

“I knew nothing about COPD a year and a half ago,” he told her. “Then, when I first starting hearing the stats that 24 million people may be affected, it really stopped me in my tracks. How could it be that I didn't know about this, and my friends and my family don't know about it? So, I thought, ‘How can I put a face to that?’"

The result is the large-scale pinwheel design you see here, chosen because the pinwheel is a symbol of breathing. Kalish, whose works of art have been featured everywhere from the New York Times to Sports Illustrated and hang in the homes of musicians, world leaders, actors, and professional athletes, says he spent an entire year on the project, which borrows from his signature use of license plates to create art.

Each of the 24 pinwheels in the design consists of 2,400 license plates, with the number of plates used from each state reflecting the percentage of that state’s population with COPD. When viewed from the air the entire creation reflects the map of the United States.

The monument debuted in New York City in September, then made its way to the State Fair of Texas in Dallas for its second outing. It will be at the fair through Oct. 23 for any Texas members or visitors to Dallas who would like to go out and see it in person.

From there, the monument will travel to Tampa, FL, where it will be on display around the time of AARC Congress 2011, Nov. 5–8.

We’ll have much more from Cathcart’s interview with Michael Kalish at the Texas State Fair in AARC Times, so look for it in your December issue.

“If I can help people lead a better life—my art can enable that—that's really cool,” he said. “So, I feel very lucky to be a part of this.”