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Royal Jordan - Ft. Wayne, Allen County

Royal Jordan II remembers growing up in an era when smoking was the thing to do.

"As a young teenager. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to 'be cool' so I started to cool 'Kool' cigarettes like the big boys did and the commercials showed."

In his early 40s his addiction took a dark turn, changing his life forever. At first, he coughed all the time and caught a lot of colds. Soon his frequent colds turned into penumonia, and then he learned that only one-third of his lungs were functioning. He spent the next two years of his life in a wheelchair due to blackouts.

"I would be walking and suddenly, with no warning, black out. This was the result of lack of oxygen in my bloodstream, so my body shut down any part to save my core organs like my heart, lungs and automatic systems."

Through faith, prayer, and medical treatment, Royal quit smoking and can walk again. He lives a life of purpose, overseeing programs at the Ft. Wayne Urban League that help at-risk youth find hope and opportunity. He still faces a daily struggle for air, but he does four breathing treatments a day and is careful not to catch a cold.

"I would love to have my lungs back the way they were before I damaged myself, but I have to keep going. I do all kinds of things that are conducive to keeping my lungs elastic. I do prevention, like a car. I do routine maintenance. I do breathing exercises. I do so much just to survive."

What is his wish for Hoosiers?

"We need to educate people about what happens when you smoke these. If I had known what they really do, I never would have done it. They said it was 'Kool' but it was addictive and a drag."

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