About five years ago, PH parent and now PHA Board of Trustees member, Steve Van Wormer, began working on a series of audio PSAs in his basement to raise awareness about PH. In his professional life, Steve works as Creative Manager of on-air promos at FOX, and this was the perfect way to blend his talent and his passion to find a cure for PH.
In 2011, Steve was awarded a Lantos Grant and used the award to create more audio PSAs and begin a series of five video PSAs.
The impact of Steve’s PSAs was such that PH associations around the world began asking for translated versions for use in their own countries. With a small amount of money from PHA and PHA Europe, those translated versions became a reality, and to date, the PSAs have been translated into 43 languages and branded for use by national PH associations in their home countries.
After PHA’s recent Board meetings in March, Steve returned to his home in Los Angeles and told some of his co-workers at FOX about his work with PHA, the PSAs and his commitment to the fight against PH. Through colleagues and connections at FOX, Steve soon received a commitment from FOX for the PSAs he created to air on FOX, FX, FXX, Fox Sports 1, Fox News, Nat Geo, FOX Hispanic Networks, and 22 Regional FOX Sports Networks.
From there things started to happen quickly. To date, Steve has received commitments for distribution from the following networks: CBS National Network, MGM Networks, Radio Disney, My Network TV, RLTV, and Warner Bros. Records.
Other networks have requested, and Steve and his volunteer team have produced, 30-second versions of the PSAs, Spanish translations and 15-second versions of the PSAs to be displayed on Instagram (check out the first one here @britgirl61). Most recently, the ad council has approached PHA and is interested in distributing the PSAs. The momentum is continuing, with each day bringing word of new doors opening toward a broader audience.
PHA recently invested a small amount of money for distribution to 10,000 radio stations and 5,000 TV stations, and we are beginning a campaign, to launch with World PH Day, to encourage PHers around the country to reach out to their local TV and radio stations and ask them to air the PSAs. PHA has created a media kit (http://www.phassociation.org/PSAs), which includes step-by-step instructions and a call script, to help the PH community spread the word.
Steve and his 12-year-old son (and PH patient) Lucas are becoming a story themselves. On April 26, 2014, Lucas and Steve were interviewed by LaFern Cusack of Radio Disney about pulmonary hypertension and what they are doing to make a difference. The interview, which is scheduled to air on May 4, 2014, from 6:30-7:30 a.m. PT, will explore how Lucas found out he has IPAH and the impact of the Early Diagnosis Campaign. Listen to the interview
The PSAs are already helping gain traction in the celebrity world. Lucas has charmed the former Mrs. Brady, Florence Henderson, who recently shared a link to Lucas’s story and the Early Diagnosis Campaign on her Facebook page. In addition, actress Laura Dern has pledged to mention Lucas’s story and the PSAs whenever possible as she begins press for her upcoming movie The Fault in Our Stars. The film is an adaptation of a popular book about two teenagers suffering from cancer, and she believes the link of a child suffering from a chronic illness will resonate as she promotes it.
Through a small amount of financial assistance and a huge amount of passion for PHA, Steve has done something truly remarkable, and we know this is just the beginning. Please follow along with us as this exciting adventure continues.
To learn more about Steve’s PSAs, check out the media kit or participate in lobbying your local TV or radio stations. Visit PHA’s website now (http://www.phassociation.org/PSAs).