MONTVILLE TWP. — Bob Rawlins is affectionately called “Coach Bob” for two reasons.
First, he has served as a soccer coach.
When is not teaching athletes to score goals, he volunteers at Cleveland Clinic Medina Hospital to instruct those who have been prescribed oxygen therapy on how to work on their respiratory goals.
He knows what it’s like to be on that field, too.
Rawlins’ own respiratory condition caused him to have to retire early from a career in marketing, and he uses a portable oxygen concentrator in his daily care.
On Thursday, Rawlins, of Medina, was surprised with a newer model — a FreeStyle Comfort portable oxygen concentrator. It replaces a system that Rawlins transported on a wheeled cart with one that he can now wear with a shoulder strap.
Greater mobility is this newest goal.
The surprise event was at Fox Meadows Country Club in Montville Township to celebrate Rawlins’ dedication to CAIRE Inc. and to the Medina community. CAIRE is a manufacturer of oxygen therapy equipment based in Ball Ground, Georgia.
Rawlins was diagnosed three years ago with acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is when fluid leaks into the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. He started on oxygen therapy as well as other treatments.
He now has interstitial lung disease due to scarring on his lungs caused by the respiratory syndrome, which has required him to continue oxygen therapy.
“It’s hard to make people realize it’s not the end, it’s just a new way of life,” said Rawlins in regards to his oxygen tank. “It’s just like being on another kind of medicine except this one you wear.”
Rawlins has written for the CAIRE medical blog, which is designed to educate and encourage those who suffer from serious respiratory conditions.
CAIRE Inc. partnered with Medical Service Co. to give Rawlins the more portable oxygen concentrator.
“They have a do-good campaign and they’re doing it over the holidays. I said, ‘Hey, you got to meet Bob Rawlins. He’s a local guy, they’re a local company in Bedford,” said George Coppola, the marketing director of CAIRE Inc.
Rawlins did not know that he was receiving this new piece of equipment. He thought that he was just meeting with friends and colleagues for dinner.
“Speechless, overwhelmed,” he said soon after learning he truth. “I never expected anything like that.”
This new type of oxygen tank, according to Coppola, takes air from the person’s surroundings and runs it through filters to make it safe for the person using the tank. It prevents the patient from having to worry about getting new oxygen tanks and makes it easier for them to move around.
“The more flexible and mobile you can be, the better you’re going to feel,” said Rawlins. “This new machine is going to be wonderful because it’s so light.”