The baseball league has named Boehringer Ingelheim an official IPF awareness partner. In this role, the company will work to educate the league’s fan base about IPF, its symptoms, treatment, and the importance of an early diagnosis.
It will bring the campaign to 75 Breathless Blowout game days at 15 minor league ballparks nationwide. To help raise awareness of breathlessness, fans will be given gum and encouraged to blow bubble gum bubbles during the games. Boehringer Ingelheim will have stands with IPF information throughout the stadiums.
Bernie Williams, the New York Yankees legend and musician, will be at some events.
The former New York Yankees’ centerfielder will appear at a number of game days to share his story with fans. He will also be a part of other memorable moments, such as throwing out the first pitch or performing “Take Me Out to The Ball Game” on guitar, which has become a passion since he retired.
Williams’ father died of IPF in 2001. Since then, he has dedicated his life to raising awareness of the disease. He’s been a partner in the Breathless Campaign for some time now.
“Teaming up with Boehringer Ingelheim and Minor League Baseball is a unique opportunity to reach a wider audience for a cause that is so close to my heart — raising IPF awareness,” Williams said in a press release. “This partnership will truly come to life with the help of MiLB and its fan base, and we are looking forward to making a difference for those affected by IPF.”
Williams will also participate in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for bubble gum bubbles blown. This quest will come during the Eastern League All-Star Game in Trenton, New Jersey, on July 11. Williams will be there to motivate the fans.
“Through our partnership with Minor League Baseball, we aim to take disease recognition to new heights nationally,” said Al Masucci, vice president of the IPF business unit at Boehringer Ingelheim. The company wants to do its part to increase “the chances of an early and accurate IPF diagnosis for those who may be living with this complicated disease that is all-too-often confused with other, more common respiratory illnesses,” he said.
“With the help of baseball great Bernie Williams, we eagerly join and support this great cause and look to play an important role in raising awareness about this serious lung disease among Minor League Baseball fans,” said David Wright, the league’s chief marketing officer.
Williams has said that his father, Barnabé, was the inspiration behind his stellar baseball career. As one way of recognizing his father, he wants to turn his family’s experience into a chance to help others struggling with a similar challenge. Williams said he not only wants to help other families obtain education and information to cope with IPF, but also empower them to pursue appropriate treatment.