AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with Amarillo College announced that its Respiratory Care program is set to celebrate 50 years of educating therapists with a reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 4 in the Allied Health Sciences Building of the AC campus at 6222 W. 9th Ave.

Officials detailed that in 1972, the city’s first respiratory therapist, Gary Gerard, joined Dr. Ted Nicklaus and Bill Young to develop the program at AC which now has around 470 graduates.

Students and faculty will be present at the “Fifty Years of Respiratory Care at Amarillo College” celebration to mark the milestone, according to officials.

“We are thrilled to celebrate 50 years of educating respiratory therapists here at AC,” Becky Byrd, director of the Respiratory Care Program, said. “Our program has produced hundreds of wonderful graduates, and their service to the communities they’ve served has been indispensable.”

Officials added that refreshments and cake will be available while attendees will have the chance to learn more about the program and career options in respiratory therapy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, officials noted, reported that there are around 133,410 respiratory therapists working in the U.S. along with a 23-percent growth in employment opportunities for respiratory therapists.

Students who graduate from the program are eligible to take national credential exams and earn a national Registered Respiratory Therapist credential, officials said.

For more information about the reception for “Fifty Years of Respiratory Care at Amarillo College” or about AC’s Respiratory Care Program, call 806-354-6058.