Epatha Merkerson Joins Lung Association in New York As 2009 Christmas Seals® Chairperson

ALBANY, NY (11/19/2009)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association in New York has selected award-winning actress Epatha Merkerson as the 2009 Christmas Seals Campaign Chairperson in New York State. Ms. Merkerson is joining the Lung Association this holiday season to raise awareness of the mission of the more than century-old charity, which works in communities across the country every day to save lives by preventing lung disease and promoting lung health.

Merkerson is an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award winner and has won critical acclaim for her brilliant work in theatre, television and film, but is probably best known for her role as Lt. Anita Van Buren on NBC-TV's "Law & Order." She will have a dual role with the Lung Association this year serving as both the National Christmas Seals Celebrity Chairperson and the New York State Chairperson.

"The theme of this year's Christmas Seals Campaign is 'Celebrate Another Year,' and we are thrilled that S. Epatha Merkerson has agreed to serve as the 2009 Christmas Seals Chairperson here in New York state," said Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. "Epatha has long been a friend of the American Lung Association in New York and she's been a tireless advocate in the fight against lung disease. We couldn't ask for a more committed person to help us raise awareness about the mission of our organization."

The Christmas Seals Campaign began in 1907 when volunteer Emily Bissell issued a decorative holiday "Merry Christmas" stamp and raised $3,000 to support patients with tuberculosis, a devastating disease at the time. Today, the Lung Association continues to fight lung disease through research, education, and advocacy, and depends on the generous donations of people in New York State to accomplish our life-saving work.

"The mission of the American Lung Association is very important to me and I'm happy to help raise awareness of the vital work they do by lending my support to the Christmas Seals Campaign," said Ms. Merkerson, who participated in a photo shoot as part of the national campaign, as well as a Radio Media Tour on behalf of the charity on Friday, October 16.

Ms. Merkerson was photographed with the 2009 Christmas Seal in New York on September 30, 2009, by Mark Abrahams, one of the leading fashion and entertainment photographers in the world today. Mr. Abrahams, who donated his services to the Lung Association, is a contributor and cover photographer for magazines such as InStyle, GQ, Marie Claire, and German Vogue.

"I want New Yorkers to remember that each time they support Christmas Seals and the American Lung Association, they are bringing us that much closer to winning the fight against lung disease," said Ms. Merkerson. "In celebrating the tremendous holiday tradition of placing Christmas Seals on holiday cards and packages, New Yorkers can help children with asthma and others suffering from lung disease live better and longer."

The American Lung Association will send Christmas Seals decorative stamps used to decorate holiday cards and packages to over 11 million households from October to December. The Christmas Seals Campaign is the nation's oldest direct-mail fundraising campaign, which began in 1907 to combat tuberculosis. Today, the Lung Association fights new battles against influenza, asthma, tobacco use, and lung cancer and air pollution.

This year, the American Lung Association, brought three historic Christmas Seals to life in 15-, 20- and 30-second television public service advertisements, which were distributed nationwide in mid-October, and can be viewed on ChristmasSeals.org. The charity also developed print and radio public service advertisements, all of which will drive people to the newly redesigned ChristmasSeals.org.

For more information about Christmas Seals, visit www.ChristmasSeals.org.


Note to Editors: High-resolution photographs of S. Epatha Merkerson with 2009 Christmas Seal is available upon request or can be downloaded by visiting http://lungusa.mediaseed.tv