Baseball Legend Bernie Williams Calls on the Public to Join Queen Latifah, The Bacon Brothers, Paul Shaffer, as Judges of the Breathless® Ballad Challenge

Ridgefield, Conn. – New York Yankees legend and Latin Grammy-nominee Bernie Williams has teamed up with award-winning actress, musician and TV producer Queen Latifah, music duo The Bacon Brothers, singer and composer Paul Shaffer, and other notable judges, to vote on lyrics submitted by the public for the Breathless® Ballad Challenge.

The Breathless Ballad Challenge launched as a lyric competition to raise awareness of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – one of the most common forms of interstitial lung disease – that took Bernie’s father’s life. As part of the initiative, fans were encouraged to write and submit original lyrics inspired by a hero in their lives to accompany Bernie Williams’ instrumental song, “Para Don Berna,” which he wrote to honor his father’s memory.

The public also has the unique opportunity to cast their vote to select the winning lyrics to accompany “Para Don Berna” until May 12, 2021, via social media. The collective public votes will be tallied together and count as one vote; each of the judges will also cast one vote. Individuals can vote by viewing the lyric submissions on Bernie Williams’ and Boehringer Ingelheim’s social media channels. If the voting process results in a tie, Bernie Williams and Emmy-award winning music producer Eren Cannata will collaborate to determine the winning lyrics.

“I’m truly touched by the number of outstanding entries we’ve received and very honored to be joined by such talented judges to help select the winner of the Breathless Ballad Challenge,” said Bernie Williams. “This effort is personally important to me, and I am grateful to be able to honor my dad and everyone affected by IPF through music.”

“We’re thrilled to be working with such a talented panel of judges as part of the Breathless Ballad Challenge and we want the public to get involved to vote for their favorite lyrics,” said Al Masucci, vice president, ILD Business Unit, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “With misdiagnosis rates still as high as 50%, we still need to raise awareness about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis to help patients receive an early and accurate diagnosis.”

The following panel of judges from diverse musical and professional backgrounds, will review submissions and choose the winning entry that will be announced this summer:

  • Bernie Williams, New York Yankees legend and Latin Grammy-nominated musician
  • Queen Latifah, award-winning actress, musician and TV producer
  • The Bacon Brothers (Michael and Kevin), an Americana music duo who have played together since they were kids in Philadelphia and have released 10 albums
  • Paul Shaffer, a singer and composer who served as David Letterman’s musical director and band leader for 33 years
  • Eren Cannata, an Emmy award-winning songwriter, producer, musician who has worked with Demi Lovato, Timbaland and NBC’s “The Voice”
  • Scott Staszak, chief operating officer of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and an accomplished musician
  • Arthur Hanlon, a Latin music pianist, composer, arranger and Billboard and Emmy-nominee
  • Hiram Williams, J.D., a cellist who has frequently performed and collaborated with his brother, Bernie
  • Willie Randolph, a six-time World Series champion as a player and coach, a music aficionado and mentor to Bernie
  • Sweeny Murti, a long-time Yankees reporter for WFAN and Sports Net NY (SNY) and hosts the pregame and postgame shows for Yankees radio broadcasts and music enthusiast

For the latest details on the Breathless Ballad Challenge and to vote for the winning lyrics, follow along on social media:

About idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

IPF, a common type of interstitial lung disease, is a serious lung condition that causes irreversible scarring of the lungs, and makes it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of IPF include breathlessness during activity, a dry and persistent cough, chest discomfort, fatigue and weakness. Although considered “rare,” IPF affects up to 132,000 Americans, and about 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed every year with IPF. In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first drugs specifically indicated for the treatment of IPF.

About Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Making new and better medicines for humans and animals is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to create breakthrough therapies that change lives. Since its founding in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is independent and family-owned. We have the freedom to pursue our long-term vision, looking ahead to identify the health challenges of the future and targeting those areas of need where we can do the most good.

As a world-leading, research-driven pharmaceutical company, with around 52,000 employees, we create value through innovation daily for our three business areas: Human Pharma, Animal Health, and Biopharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing. In 2020, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of around 22.33 billion USD (19.57 billion EUR). Our significant investment of over 4.2 billion USD (3.7 billion EUR) in 2020 (18.9% of net sales) in R&D drives innovation, enabling the next generation of medicines that save lives and improve quality of life.

We realize more scientific opportunities by embracing the power of partnership and diversity of experts across the life-science community. By working together, we accelerate the delivery of the next medical breakthrough that will transform the lives of patients now, and in generations to come.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Ridgefield, CT, is the largest U.S. subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation and is part of the Boehringer Ingelheim group of companies.  In addition, there are Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health in Duluth, GA and Boehringer Ingelheim Fremont, Inc. in Fremont, CA.

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