Physician Assistant Song Wins COPD Awareness Award

Rod Richmond, PA-C, has been a physician assistant for 10 years, living his dream of treating patients in critical care and family practice. And several years ago, he moved from New York to Nashville to pursue another dream – country music. Richmond released his debut album, Star in the Window, in 2009.

This year, Richmond combined his two passions to compete in a Country Music Association campaign for COPD. At the 44th Annual CMA Awards, many artists including Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes and Alan Jackson signed a pinwheel to support COPD awareness and education. In 2010, Grammy award winner Patty Loveless wrote the song “Drive” for DRIVE4COPD to promote COPD awareness. Then Billy Ray Cyrus, the Country Music Association and DRIVE4COPD joined forces to launch the “Tune Up for COPD Songwriting Competition,” a challenge to the American public to write a new song to promote COPD awareness.

Richmond was inspired to write a song when he heard about the contest. He treats many patients with the disease, and his father, a lifelong smoker, died of COPD.

“The bane of my existence is COPD,” he said. “If we can get people to stop smoking it would be the single best thing to happen in medicine.”

He wrote the song “Breathe Free” and submitted it to the contest. Of the 90 entries, Richmond’s rose to number one during the online voting period. In May, Richmond’s song was chosen by the panel of judges, including award-winning country musicians Billy Ray Cyrus and Patty Loveless, as the “Fan Favorite,” because he received more than 3,000 of the 11,000 total online votes cast. His song will earn a featured spot on the site.

The judges also chose the final winner, Indiana-native Tim Wright, who will perform his winning song at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville on June 11.

“We need to get the word out to all providers about screening for COPD,” said Richmond. See the music video that Richmond created below.