Recently, the LCWA healthcare PR team set off on a PR journey alongside Wisconsin resident Mary Hesch, who partnered with our client the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) to raise awareness and funds for pulmonary fibrosis (PF). Mary embarked on a 1,400-mile trek from Wisconsin to Texas in honor of her mother, who died of PF 25 years ago. We followed Mary’s 99-day pilgrimage every step of the way, pitching national media as well as local markets in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas.
On the National Stage
As a result of national outreach efforts, Mary was interviewed by CNN for its “Impact Your World” series, which features uplifting stories about people doing great things for others. A feature story about Mary’s journey was featured online at CNN.com and received pick-up via CNN International, MSN.com and more.
Achieving Local Headlines from Wisconsin to Texas
To kick-off Mary’s walk in September, LCWA hit the ground running pitching local media along her path in Wisconsin. An interview with Madison’s WMTV-TV (NBC) featured her story. In addition, Mary conducted local outreach near her hometown of Stevens Point, Wis., generating feature stories via WSAW-TV (CBS, Wausau) and WEAU-TV (NBC, Eau Claire). Notable coverage followed throughout the Wisconsin area, including WISC-TV (CBS, Madison), WMSN-TV (FOX, Madison), WKBT-TV (CBS, La Crosse) and WFRV-TV (CBS, Green Bay). The newspaper in Mary’s birth town, Devil’s Lake Journal (Devil’s Lake, N.D.), also covered her pilgrimage.
As she entered Illinois, Mary conducted TV interviews with Peoria’s WMBD-TV (CBS) and Springfield’s WICS-TV (ABC). Other notable coverage in Illinois included WIFR-TV (CBS, Rockford), WICD-TV (ABC, Champaign), WCCU-TV (FOX, Champaign) and WRSP-TV (FOX, Springfield).
In addition, Mary was featured over the airwaves as she made her way through Arkansas and Texas, including radio interviews with KTFS-AM (Texarkana, Ark.), KPYN-AM (Atlanta, Texas) and KSAM-FM (Huntsville, Texas).
Crossing the Finish Line in Port Aransas
To conclude the 99-day walk, LCWA worked closely with Corpus Christi’s local media to join Mary on the last leg of her pilgrimage to the Gulf of Mexico in Port Aransas, where her mother’s ashes were scattered 25 years ago. The walk culminated with a majority of Corpus Christi’s local media capturing Mary as she sank her feet into the ocean. Coverage included:
- The Caller-Times (print and online)
- Port Aransas South Jetty (online)
- KRIS-TV (NBC)
- KIII-TV (ABC)
- KZTV-TV (CBS)
Returning Home to Print and Broadcast Features
As Mary returned home to Wisconsin, her hometown paper The Stevens Point Journal ran a cover story, highlighting her 1,400-mile pilgrimage, which received pick-up in several local outlets throughout Wisconsin, including Sheboygan Press, Wausau Daily Herald, Oshkosh Northwestern, among others. Back in Texas, the Austin American-Statesman ran the Caller-Times story in print.
Marking the end to Mary’s journey, her hometown TV station WSAW-TV (CBS, Wausau) ran a follow-up story, and local broadcast outlets nationwide continued to share Mary’s journey into the new year, including KBTX-TV (CBS, Bryan, Texas), WBOC-16 (CBS/FOX, Salisbury, Md.), WMTV (NBC, Madison, Wis.), WNCT (CBS, Greenville, N.C.) and more.
It was an honor to support Mary’s efforts to help those impacted by PF, which affects 250,000 Americans and has no known cure. With a goal of $50,000, Mary has raised nearly $40,000 (and counting!) on behalf of the PFF. To learn more about Mary and her journey, please visit www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org/maryhesch.