Colorado Mountain Climber founds National Nonprofit to Aid Victims of Toxic Mold

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Adventure sports photographer Jonathan Lee Wright, a recovering toxic mold poisoning victim himself, saw a need during his own battle with the illness and launched the Fungal Disease Resource Center.

Adventure sports photographer Jonathan Lee Wright has founded a national charitable nonprofit to aid victims made sick by toxic mold.

Wright, himself a recovering toxic mold poisoning victim, saw a need during his own battle with illness and launched the Fungal Disease Resource Center (FDRC) to help solve an issue recently described by senior congressional staff as a public health emergency.

"After years of disabling illness, and with no help from doctors, I finally determined that mold from a home I lived in years before had contaminated all of my possessions, and was literally killing me,” said Wright. "In November of 2003, I threw out nearly everything I owned, including my commercial photo library, and decided to go camping in the fresh air of the outdoors to recover."

The FDRC is a Colorado-based nonprofit corporation and has received expedited emergency application processing for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. FDRC will raise nearly a million dollars in its first year for victim services and research support.

"This amount of money won't solve all the problems in the next year, but it's going to be a good start" said Wright. FDRC has recruited help from a variety of disciplines – doctors, Congressional staff, and legal and media professionals, among others – and has a vast support network consisting of recovering victims.

“The talent base we have for this effort is invaluable; we’re thankful for their support, guidance and commitment to solving this problem,” said Wright.

Wright’s personal story is one of the reasons FDRC has attracted its initial support. Wright estimates he spent over 300 nights outdoors in 2004, many times in subfreezing temperatures. Here, he found breathing clean air gave his immune system a rest, and that he was able to slowly recover from what he now recognizes as poisoning.

"For people who are susceptible to this -- and new research shows that means almost 25% of the population -- mold in your home can slowly poison you, and then your immune system goes berserk," he said.

In September of 2004, Wright testified before the U.S. House of Representatives in support of a bill intended to aid victims of toxic mold. But it has been an uphill battle. Despite hand-delivering materials and the written testimony of hundreds of victims across the country to virtually every office of the U.S. House and many members of the Senate, there has been little response from lawmakers -- either in Colorado or the rest of the country.

Joel Segal, Public Affairs Director for Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), has acknowledged the problem. In a public statement during a national forum conducted by the US Surgeon General in January 2005, he said, "We've had more calls on this than any other single issue, including universal health care -- since sponsoring House Resolution 1268 (in support of aid to toxic mold victims), we have been receiving at least 10 calls per day for the last three years from victims who are displaced, calling from motels, sick and living in cars," he reports.

Says Wright: "I'm not alone in Colorado -- every week, more people who have been affected by toxic mold poisoning find us though our advocate network. Their lives are utterly destroyed -- you lose your health, your home and everything you own -- and no one cares."

"Everyone from small children to the elderly are dying from this -- something has to be done. So we're going to step up and do the right thing until the government can see fit to do the same. But we can't do it alone.” The FDRC seeks public donations and public health grants to support its work.

Leading physician researcher and FDRC Medical Director Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, offers advice to fellow practitioners: "The acute and chronic illnesses caused by mold are easily diagnosed using a published case definition. We have effective screening, treatment and followup procedures -- no one should suffer needlessly from mold illness. For physicians, learning to identify these disorders is not only simple -- but also an insight into an exciting new field of medicine."

Wright concludes, “People need to know that when they support the FDRC they are not only helping others, they are protecting themselves and their families with knowledge of the true health risks from mold."

For more information, visit the Fungal Disease Resource Center on the web at:

Media contacts:

FDRC media office

(719) 429 4787

Jonathan Lee Wright / Commercial photography site

Congressman John Conyers, Jr / Link to legislation HR1269


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