WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. -- Who knew playing an old tune was so good for you? At Lutheran Medical Center there is a harmonica class just for patients recovering from a medical issue with their lungs.
It is called the Huff 'n Puffers Lutheran Medical Center Pulmonary Harmonica Group.
"Well, you gotta huff in order to puff. And you gotta do both to breath and play the harmonica," said Jim Searcy.
Searcy is the volunteer leader of the group.
"It makes the muscles work. I'm exercising their muscles in their lungs," Searcy said.
"This class has improved my oxygen. I've gone from 58 percent up to 61," said one class member.
"It has made me learn to breathe better and faster," said another.
Few people in the class ever imagined they'd be playing the harmonica.
"Never," laughed one woman in the class.
And most have no prior musical training, but they rarely miss one of Searcy's classes.
"He inspires you to work at it," said one woman.
"The favorite part of the class is Jim," said another.
"Without him, we'd be lost," said one man.
"Once you really get into how to play it, once you learn to play a song or two, you're hooked," Searcy said.
Searcy picked up the harmonica while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. He knows a thing or two about sacrifice, including quitting smoking just for this class. His payoff is the group's success.
"To watch their faces. To hear what they do. And then watch them walk out that door knowing they got a good workout, and at the same time they had fun. That's the whole point," Searcy explained.
"Everybody laughs and enjoys it and visits with everybody. It's like a family thing," said one woman.
Jim Searcy's class is about support; it is about music; and it is about laughter.
"Laughter adds years to your life. So, at the rate we're going we'll all reach a thousand," said a woman in the front row.