Elite Athlete with Asthma

This is a copy of the letter i sent to AstraZeneca. I wanted to share it with you also. I am a Asthmatic and have been able to do amazing things. I would like to share my story with as many people as possible. To show other Asthmatics that we are not defined by this condition. We can achieve amazing things with proper diet, medication, and a healthy life style.

I am a 39 year old Endurance Athlete with Asthma. I got where I am at in my sport with the help of Symbicort. Beginning in 2017 my insurance company (UPMC) no longer covered Symbicort, so I had to switch to Advair. At first I did not notice any difference in my training or racing, but slowly over the next couple of months I noticed my lungs starting to burn during my races. Then I started to have some congestion after my races. Now I have 2 to 3 days of congestion from my races. I had some left over Symbicort so I decided to switch back till it runs out and see how it goes. My training is back up to top notch and my lungs are feeling better than ever. So that has given me the idea of contacting you. At first I though of contacting you for help on getting back on Symbicort. But the more I have been thinking about it I would like to ask your company for a Athlete Sponsorship. A little bit about my background and athletic background. I developed Allergies when I was 23. I had a hard time controlling them and within 2 years I developed Asthma. I suffered with both until I met my Allergies/Asthma doctor, Dr. Judith Wolfe from Johnstown. She got me back to being able to function somewhat normally. But by the age of 30 I lost myself and my health. I am 5'5" tall and i weighed 192 lbs. I was way over weigh and struggling to control my Asthma and Allergies. Thats when I decided I needed to start a healthier life style. Around that same time Dr Wolfe prescribed me Symbicort. The next 4 years i was into power lifting. But at the age of 35 I started my OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) journey. In 2014 I ran my first Spartan Race. Today OCR is the fastest growing sport in the world and Spartan Race is leading the way with over 1.5 Million runners in 2016 and more expected in 2017. Also hoping OCR will be a Olympic Sport by the 2020 Olympics. I am a Elite Spartan Racer. In 2016 I finished 57th in Elite US (United States) men. Now in 2017 I am sitting at 33rd in Elite US men and only getting better. I also had a great opportunity this year by being selected for Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge on NBC. My team was the Little Giants. We Inspired so many people from the show because of our size and what we were able to do. But what most people don't know is that I also suffer from Asthma. I think I found my calling in life. I want to inspire people to be the best that they can be in every way. I want to show people that no matter what your affliction we need to keep trying to be better especially people with Asthma. Asthma does not have to define us or hold us back. That with proper diet, medication, and a healthy life style we can conquer anything, even being a Elite Endurance Athlete. Today I am 135 lbs and in the best shape of my life. Which brings me back to the Athlete Sponsorship. What better way to promote the "GOOD" of your product. Every Asthma commercial I see is 1/3 the benefits of the medication then 2/3 of the commercial is the scary details you have to put in it. I do 23+ Spartan Races a year. At a small race there are 4000 runners, at a large one there are 8000+. Out of those runners 300 men are Elites. The other 7700 are just normal people doing these races to try and make a change in there life. A lot of them probably suffer with some form of Asthma. If you could promote me and I could promote your product at the races it would be amazing the amount of lives we could change. I would be a 100% good commercial. These normal people look up to us as Elites in our sport. What if they knew I was a Asthmatic just like them, and that I take Symbicort and look what I can do. We could potentially reach 177,000 people over a race season of 23 races. I am capable of doing so many more races but am held back because of financial limitations. Its very expensive having to travel to all these races. I am very fortunate that I am self employed. I own a house painting business and I also own a PPG paint store. I have a family with two great kids and still find time to train between 150 to 200 miles a month. What a great opportunity for both of us. You would be the first Asthma drug company to be able to sponsor a Elite Endurance Athlete, and with your backing the skies the limit for what i can do physically and the people I can touch in this sport. With the exposure from NBC's Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge and shooting to be on American Ninja Warrior in 2018 there is even more potential in the future. In closing I would like to thank you for listing to my story. There is so much more to it but I have babbled on long enough. I hope you will read this and give it some consideration. I think it would be a amazing opportunity for both of us. I will include the contact info for my Asthma Dr. also the links to my social media account so you can see what type of person I am. Also if you haven't already, check out NBC's Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge Season 2 I am on Episode #1 and #5. They do a spot light on me for the show also. I would represent your company with honor and dignity the same why I represent my self and my family. Thanks again!!

Thanks,Dustin Livengood

Facebook – Dustin LivengoodInstagram & Twitter – LivengoodocrNBC Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge Season 2


Comments 10

  • K8sMom2002

    Dustin, welcome … it sounds like you are committed to living your life to the absolute fullest! Congrats on all you have accomplished! 

  • green881

    Good luck!  Any response so far?

    Unfortunately I am not holding much hope. My experience is the medical community doesn't much believe us allergic types when we say we do much better on one than the other – they think all drugs in the class are the same.  I'm fighting the same thing now – I respond really well to beclomethasone nasal (Beconase/Qnasl) and poorly to everything else … but insurance dropped it because it was the most expensive.  Still in that battle.

  • Dustin

    I am very fortunate that my doctor really fights for me. She has fought and got me the Symbicort. I also do very well with the Qnasl. She fought and got that covered for me also. I think the biggest hurdle is having a doctor who is willing to be your champion and go to battle for you. My bigges thing now is to put my self out there and give people hope that we dont have to live miserably, that we can thrive and achieve goals that were once thought to be outta reach. So keep fighting and try to find a doctor that will fight just as hard for you. Good Luck with everything.

    one last thing. Before i was on the Qnasl my doctor prescribed me Qvar which i think is the same sorta product but used as a inhaler. She had me get a baby bottle nipple cut the tip off and use it as a nasal spray. Maybe ur doctor could get it pushed through that way. Hope it helps!!   

  • Kathy P

    Welcome Dustin and thanks for sharing your story! It's always great to hear stories of people who don't allow their allergies and asthma to define them or hold them back. Having a doctor who works with you is so crucial! I started training for a 50-mile bike ride in April. That was when I found out that my asthma is not as well controlled as I thought it was! Several med trials and changes later and I'm doing really well.

    Your comment about QNasl reminds me that I need to check with the clinic about the prior authorization for that – I've been trying to get that covered for a couple months. Meanwhile, the doc has given me samples Interesting about using the QVar – I have that too, so maybe I'll ask the doc about that. At one point, he had me adding the nebulizer version into a nasal rinse for my son who was in a cycle of chronic sinus infections.

  • Megan Roberts

    Hi @Dustin, thanks for sharing both your story and your sponsorship letter to AstraZeneca.  I relate a lot to what you've gone through as an asthmatic and a performance athlete in a totally different sport (paddling, dragon boat and outrigger).  I've struggled to get doctors to be willing to prescribe me the medication that has, in the end, completely changed my quality of life because it made me capable of managing my symptoms and therefore performing at the top of my sport again.  Most people probably couldn't tell the difference, because I'm still able to function regardless of medications.  But for me, it makes all the difference in the world.  

    I agree it would be extremely useful to people in your sports community to see your success as an asthmatic.  It would help them to persevere to control their own symptoms.  Of course, as you mentioned, part of the struggle for most people is a financial one; meds aren't covered by insurance and/or they have a really high co-pay.  Let us know if/when you hear from this company and what comes from it.  I don't know anything about gaining a pharma sponsor as an athlete.  I know they have huge marketing budgets and do a lot of sponsorship and what you'd be asking would likely be a drop in the bucket to them.  

    Kudos on the creative financing for your passion and keep up the great work of advocating for athletes and people with asthma!  Question– have you done any blogging or do you have any interest in it?  Wondering if that may be an avenue to gain some funding for your travel to races in the form of site ads.  You certainly have a unique and motivating story to tell.

  • Dustin

    @Kathy P Good luck with the Qvar. It worked for me for a long time. Also were you ever able to tackle that 50 bike ride? If so, how did it go? 

  • Kathy P

    The ride is coming up on September 30! Yikes! I'm not ready! And have been traveling which had hindered training. 

    I've shared 2 blogs to chronicle my journey so far. 

  • Dustin

    @Megan Roberts Thank you so much for the kind words. I really agree that as a athlete we notice the suttle differences in the effectiveness of our medications more than most. Years ago i just hoped to get through the day with out having to relay on my rescue inhaler. That is a far cry from the demands i have from my lungs now on a daily basis. 

    Also i never really though of a blog. I just got on social media a little over a year ago, and i am still learning how all this works. I will definetly check into it. If it helps me get this message out i am all for it. The only down fall is my writing skills are a little lack luster. Im a much better runner than a writer ���� But just like training hills, there are nessary evils that you have to endure to achieve your goals!!