Imagine you are a musician who plays a wind instrument and the thing you love to do gradually becomes physically harder and harder over time. This is what happened to Dick Gerard.

Since graduating from high school, Dick had been playing the clarinet and saxophone in Army bands. When he was in his mid-50s Dick noticed that it was getting harder to play his instruments, and to march and run. He chalked it up to getting older, but after a physical in 2015 where his doctor noticed an abnormality on his lung, Dick was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, or IPF.

As the IPF gradually progressed, Dick continued to play the clarinet and saxophone, despite the difficulty. He even kept playing after being placed on supplemental oxygen. Added the lung transplant list at Froedtert Hospital in January 2017, Dick still performed with the West Bend Community Band. Incredibly, he performed in a concert while on oxygen two weeks before his lung transplant in May 2017. “I was the only clarinet player in the band, so I had to be there,” he says.

Dick immediately felt better after his transplant. He was out of the hospital two weeks after his surgery and was back walking outside within a month. Shortly after, Dick was back to playing the clarinet and saxophone, as well as participating in the Military Funerals Honors Program—a volunteer service he began doing after retiring from the Army bands after 42 years.

Today Dick says he “feels much younger than his 60s.” He continues to make music, volunteer in military funerals, and share his transplant story to help raise awareness for organ donation.