Our Story


About Us

Mary Jo Byrne, wife, mother & grandmother from Ottawa, Kansas, was a resident of Olathe, Kansas for 38 years; and she lived with COPD for 20+ years.

Mary Jo maintained COPD, however in January 2011 something changed. The disease started to rapidly progress, and our very close-knit family quickly became COPD Internet "junkies.” Through the last 13 months, hospital visits occurred intermittently, and hospice was called in more than once. However Mary Jo would rally back stronger and hospice care would switch to home health care with out-patient rehabilitation, and then finally in-patient rehabilitation was started. Mary Jo was determined to beat her COPD, and through all of the efforts built a large "fan club” with her family, friends, Eucharistic Ministers, and the various medical staff.

Mary Jo’s wish was to pass away at home when the time came, and when it truly was time, Mary Jo was at home. After many years of Mary Jo (Mom) being the caretaker it was our turn to care for her. We all took on roles. Our close-knit family became even closer. In caring for her at home we all had valuable 1:1 time with her, which was a precious gift.

Though Mom endured so much, she stayed a pillar of strength up until the end. Mom was always somewhat of a hero to all of us, but in the end she quickly became our "Hero with Wings.”

Mary Jo Byrne passed away with COPD on February 28, 2012 after a long and very brave battle with this disease. Our family, having witnessed the strife, now understands the long-term care, needs and costs of this disease; and is dedicated to increasing public awareness and providing outreach & support for the families realizing this same battle.

In looking back at the last several months since this started in January 2011, we truly feel blessed that we received what is now considered a "bonus” year. When we think of how near death Mom was and how she fought so hard to overcome; we consider what she accomplished for our family in the "big picture” and look back on the fun we had in this past year. We were blessed with another Mother’s Day, another Thanksgiving and Christmas celebration, an extended family reunion, and also got to share multiple life events with Mom including: a grandson’s First Communion, a granddaughter’s bridal shower & wedding, and also another granddaughter’s graduation. Though she was still very ill it was truly a blessed "bonus” year for the all of us.

After hearing our story we hope you chose to help us with our fight to raise public awareness about COPD. Thank you for your support, 5K4MJ Family & Event Staff