Fundraiser created to honor woman, raise asthma awareness

Brooke Elswick had suffered from severe asthma since she was a little girl.

As an adult, she never “grew out” of her condition, but in the last five years she had been able to manage it better, friends said.

That’s why it was such a shock when loved ones learned Elswick, 32, died in her apartment Dec. 16, 2016, in Seymour after having an asthma attack. Her body wasn’t found until the next day.

Two of Elswick’s closest friends, Amanda Ruddick and Josh Keefer, decided they wanted to do something positive in the wake of their tragic loss to honor Elswick and bring awareness to how serious asthma can be.

A fundraiser, Just Breathe: A Breath for Brooke, featuring performances by local musical acts Clint Robinson, Steven Deweese, Refeek (Keefer), Maria Poore and Es the Nemesis, will be at On the Rox, 214 S. Broadway St., starting at 2 p.m. Sunday. There also will be a silent auction of donated items.

Those attending must be 21 or older.

Cover charge is $5 with all money from admission and donations going to the American Lung Association’s Lung Force Walk.

Ruddick has organized the Breath for Brooke team to participate in the walk on June 3 in Louisville, Kentucky. Friends and family of Elswick will be walking in her memory. They have set a goal of raising $5,000 and are more than halfway there.

Donations also are being accepted online at

“Our goal with this is to raise awareness about asthma, because the situation she was in may have been different if there was more awareness,” Ruddick said. “Asthma may have taken Brooke from us, but it never defined her.”

If they can raise $2,000 at Sunday’s event, Keefer who is known for his long hair, which hasn’t been cut in two decades, will lose his locks that day.

Ruddick had known Elswick since 2001 and said she was always the life of the party.

“People would confuse us for sisters everywhere we went,” Ruddick said. “She was comedic, witty and gorgeous. She was awesome. I loved her dearly.”

Although she was known to be tight with her money when it came to spending it on herself, Ruddick said when it came to her friends, she would be the first one to help.

“One time a friend called her and was all upset about losing her job and not having enough money and Brooke took her grocery shopping and spent probably $250,” Ruddick said. “No one knew about it, but that was Brooke. She was very caring all of the time and was always about other people.”

Keefer met Elswick in 2000, after she had moved to Seymour. The two worked together at Steak n Shake.

He also suffered from severe asthma when he was a kid, he said.

They are hoping for a big turnout Sunday because of how many people in the community knew Elswick.

“She would eat this up,” Ruddick said. “She liked the limelight.”

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What: Just Breathe: A Breath for Brooke fundraiser, featuring performances by local musical acts including Clint Robinson, Steven Deweese, Refeek (Josh Keefer), Maria Poore and Es the Nemesis.

Where: On the Rox, 214 S. Broadway St., Seymour

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Cost: Admission is $5 with all money raised going to the American Lung Association’s Lung Force Walk.