Danica Patrick Explores the ‘Racier’ Side of Washington, Seeks Awareness

Racing hottie Danica Patrick has put racing aside for a bit and headed to Washington.

The NASCAR rockstar admitted a passing knowledge of civics (joking she didn’t fare well in school on “[her] Constitution test”), but the racer has been using her acclaim and fanbase to draw some attention to a cause she believes doesn’t get enough press. While breast cancer generally claims the month of October when raising funds, selling ‘awareness’ items and generally getting a higher profile is concerned, Patrick hopes some lawmakers will assist her in shining a light on the condition COPD.

COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is often caused or exacerbated by smoking. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the US, and the only cause of death in the upper five for which the prevalence is rising- a scary thought. But for Danica Patrick, the reasons are also personal. Patrick’s own grandmother died of COPD, and in an interview with ABC, the race star says she hopes to speak for families who have suffered the same loss:

“I’m just here to use my platform as who I am, and obviously with my experience with it, to relate to those who do suffer from someone in their family having COPD — to try and urge them to do something about it.”

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Patrick concedes she does not know specifically what Congress should do to combat the disease- she notes that half of all sufferers do not know they have COPD- but says that awareness of the illness is a good first step:

“I don’t know what government needs to do about it. But the bottom line is is that pure awareness is going to be enough to do something about this disease and change its statistics.”

November is COPD Awareness Month in the US.