Dave Hargett, a longtime advocate for sleep apnea awareness and treatment, has died.

Hargett was the patient coordinator of two apnea patient support groups in the Chicago area, Naperville and Elk Grove Village. He helped establish and participated in a number of the greater Chicago area groups, where his mission as a sleep activist was fulfilled by his work in the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) [removed]A.W.A.K.E.[/removed] network of support groups.

Hargett was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 1994. According to a statement from the ASAA, his death was not related to sleep apnea. Hargett was fond of saying that he suspected that he had the condition for many years and could have been diagnosed sooner had people understood what the condition was all about. Soon after, he became a sleep activist.

Hargett participated in the “Great American Sleepwalk” in May 1996. In fact, he was responsible for choosing the name. The important outcome of the walk was the creation of, by act of Congress, the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, a center within the National Institutes of Health dedicated to facilitating research on sleep and sleep disorders.

Hargett became a member of the ASAA board of directors in 2002 and was still serving at the time of his death. He served 5 years as the association board chair from 2004 to 2009. It was a period of transition for the association and his leadership was a steadying influence. He was a tireless supporter who helped with continuing education and fostered patient empowerment and the importance of effective self-advocacy.

“The sleep apnea patient community and the association is grateful for his contributions, which will be sorely missed,” the ASAA wrote in a statement.