Bernie Williams teams up with BI

Former New York Yankee Bernie Williams is teaming up with Boehringer Ingelheim to raise awareness of a lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), that his father suffered from for years before he died in 2001.

His father, Bernabé, inspired Williams to play baseball and make it to the Major Leagues, and taught him to play guitar, which has become Williams’s second career since retiring from baseball.

In honor of his father’s battle with IPF, Williams has joined the Breathless campaign to turn his family’s devastating experience with this rare lung disease into a chance to help other families. Williams hopes to educate and empower others who think they may have IPF to seek early diagnosis and treatment and is encouraging people to visit the campaign website — — and share the videos and educational content through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Whether I was in centerfield or at bat, my dad was always my biggest fan. 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,” said Williams. “Sharing my dad’s story is so important, because it will help others get the answers they need sooner and easier.”

Facts about IPF:

  • IPF, which causes permanent scarring of the lungs and difficulty breathing, affects as many as 132,000 Americans. IPF leads to approximately 40,000 deaths each year – about as many as breast cancer.
  • About 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with IPF every year – enough to fill a baseball stadium.
  • Diagnosing IPF can be difficult and take years because the symptoms of IPF are similar to – and often confused with – more common respiratory or cardiac diseases like COPD, asthma, or congestive heart failure.
  • Unfortunately, most people with IPF live just three to five years after diagnosis.
  • While there is no cure for IPF – there are treatments available, so the earlier a person living with IPF is diagnosed, the better