By Misty DUPLESSIS
Though Sunday, March 20 was a cold and wet day, the weather did not discourage supporters from showing up for the first annual Los Angeles Free to Breathe Yogathon.
The fundraiser teamed up the National Lung Cancer Partnership with Stephanie Gatschet of ABC’s “All My Children” to raise funds for and awareness of lung cancer. Among the poses was 108 Sun Salutations, which are a series of yoga poses that focus on breathing.
Attendants arrived at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada ready to be a part of the growing family of supporters. Many involved were, unfortunately, too familiar with the disease. Participants displayed signs on the back of their Free to Breathe T-shirts honoring
those for whom they were doing the poses. As a tribute to those affected by lung cancer, Gatschet’s mother Nancy, a lung cancer survivor and active member of the Pennsylvania Lung Cancer Partnership, was also in attendance. She shared her vision of finding an early detection mechanism and gaining the ability to profile who is at risk for the illness.
Supporter Jenna Bryant became passionate about the cause after she lost her father, a non-smoker, to lung cancer.
Also there to lend support to fellow AMC coworker was Danielle Parker who plays 8-year-old Emma Lavery on the show. Parker had prior experience with yoga.
“Stephanie helped me at the studio once. She taught me on salutations and I memorized it,” said Parker of the poses she was shown.
Skilled yoga instructors walked those new to the exercises as well as experienced participants through the series with soothing music in the background and touching slides on the wall.
Guests were also able to take part in an auction and had a chance to bid on various items that included bottles of wine, yoga gear, VIP tickets to Mrs. California United States Pageant with a designer evening handbag and skin care products.
Through donations from registration fees and generous donors, the organization raised about $20,000 for the cause – so far – exceeding their goal of $15,000.
The group will accept donations through May and encourages those interested to visit their website freetobreathe.com.