Woman walking 1,400 miles to raise awareness for pulmonary fibrosis passes through Peoria

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Wisconsin woman is walking 1,400 miles to raise awareness for pulmonary fibrosis.

Mary Hesch said she lost her mother to the lung scarring disease 25 years ago. She said she is walking to honor her mother’s legacy and raise money for pulmonary fibrosis research. Her goal is to raise $50,000, and she has raised just under $18,000 so far.

“My mom loved to walk, so as a kid, she’d walk to the lake and do walks. I’ve always loved walking,” she said.

Hesch passed through Peoria on Monday. She started from her home in Stevens Point, Wisc. three weeks ago, and walks about 14.6 miles per day. She expects her journey to take 99 days plus eight rest days throughout.

She said pulmonary fibrosis affects 250,000 Americans, and 50,000 are diagnosed each year. There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis, and Hesch wants that to change.

“I want a cure, I want these people who can’t breathe be able to get a lung transplant so that it’s readily accessible for everyone with the disease. I know what my mom went through, and being on oxygen and not being able to breathe is not easy,” she said.

Hesch said the destination point is Port Aransas, Texas, where her mother’s ashes were scattered.

“It was one of my mom’s favorite spots while she was diagnosed. She found she could breathe easier at sea level, and so that’s where we spread her ashes. So I am walking from my house to where she is,” she said.

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