There was more to the “It’s Just a Hunk of Metal” car show Saturday at the Kentucky Splash waterpark than just a few hunks of old metal in the form of classic cars, trucks and motorcycles.
For organizer Christy Bolton, it was a way to honor her late father, Estle Lawson, raise awareness about the disease, pulmonary fibrosis, which killed him, and help another family that is going through an illness like the one that killed her father.
“My dad loved these old cars. He was a Christian first of all. Right before he passed away, he had a Challenger that he was getting ready to restore. I promised him that I would get it out and get it restored for him. He told me not to worry about that car because it was just a hunk of metal so that is where we came up with our name,” Bolton noted.
Lawson died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in 2013. It’s a disease most people aren’t familiar with.
“It’s a lung disease. There is no cure. A lung transplant is the only chance of survival that you have but only 1 percent of people that have it get a transplant,” Bolton said. “As many people a year pass away from it as breast cancer but nobody knows about it.”
Pulmonary fibrosis hardens the lungs and turns them into a fibrotic state. Lawson had one percent lung function left when he died.
There are various causes of the pulmonary fibrosis, including working in coalmines, smoking and other environmental factors. Idiopathic means that doctors don’t know what caused Lawson’s disease despite a biopsy that was sent to three different hospitals.
Bolton noted that many physicians don’t even know how to diagnosis it. It took a year for doctors to diagnosis her father with the disease in March 2013 and he died of the disease in October 2013. He was in the University of Kentucky Medical Center for a month awaiting a lung transplant that never happened.
Most people die from the disease within two years of finding out they have it.
“If you are not able to get on the transplant list, then it is a death sentence,” Bolton said. “More people need to know about it. It is something you have no idea about until you are faced with it. It is devastating. When we found out he was sick, we prayed that it wasn’t cancer, which is everybody’s worst nightmare. As it turns out, pulmonary fibrosis is worse than cancer because you don’t have the treatments and medicines that you have for cancer.”
Over the last year, Bolton noted that doctors have come up with a few medicines to help prolong the life expectancy of people with pulmonary fibrosis but those medicines are in the trial stages. There is still no cure for the disease.
The proceeds from Saturday’s car show are going to a family that was in the same situation as Lawson’s family when he died.
“Whenever we were at the hospital, our church – we have an awesome church – they took up donations every week for us. They made sure we had a place to stay and we had food and that we had everything we needed to stay there with him,” Bolton said. “This is what we are trying to do for somebody else is just help them out.”
Bolton said that she hopes to make the car show an annual event.
Incidentally, Bolton did get her father’s 1970 TA Dodge Challenger, which was in his basement for 25 years, restored and it was on display Saturday at the car show.