The Role of Sleep Apnea in Hawaii’s Senate Race


Brian Evans with his mother, Helen Bousquet, who passed away
as a result of sleep apnea.

What have you done for your mom lately? There is a good chance that whatever you have done – it doesn’t come close to what Las Vegas crooner Brian Evans has done for his mother. In a bid not to win political favor, but to raise awareness of his mom’s untimely death as a result of sleep apnea, Evans threw the wrench – à la Ralph Nader – into Hawaii’s senate race by running as an unknown third candidate in the Democratic primary. The race caused quite a kerfuffle and put obstructive sleep apnea in the spotlight, for once.

Brian Evans’ campaign to raise the public’s awareness of sleep apnea started after his mom, Helen Bousquet, passed away in her hospital bed while recovering from a relatively routine knee surgery. After the procedure, she was given morphine to kill the pain. As a sleep apnea sufferer, his mother should have been monitored more carefully, but she wasn’t. Morphine – an opiate – can slow down an already impaired respiratory system. One particularly study shows that opiate-based pain medication can actually cause obstructive sleep apnea. Regardless, the lesson to be learned is that sleep apnea can be a killer.

Brian Evans was raised by his mother. She supported his talents and ability to entertain. ­­She would even move to Los Angeles to help him develop an acting career. He starred in commercials and the pilot episodes of Full House and 90210. Later, Evans started singing. Dubbed “The Croonerman,” his first album – Quite Frankly –became the number one best selling self-released album in Canadian history. Also, he has opened for Jay Leno and the late Joan Rivers. As you can imagine, his mother’s death hit him hard – she was his closest confidant – and like she was there for him, Evans decided that he needed to be there for her.

Evans’ crusade against sleep apnea gained full chug when he entered the Hawaii senate race. With no political fundraising, fancy balloon dropping events, or “yes we can” campaign slogan, Evans took a shocking 4,842 votes. The race was already tense – Brian Schatz was elected interim senator after the passing of Daniel Inouye and was largely a favorite to win next to opposing democratic candidate Colleen Hanabusa. Without Evans in the race, Brian Shatz would have taken a slam-dunk win. With Evans in the race, however, votes had to been scrounged from two small districts in Puna on the Big Island.

Behind it all, though, Evans’ personal crusade has gained real political steam among real politicians – not Vegas lounge singers posing as politicians. “Awareness is key,” he says on his website. He has reached out to fifty Governors in office with a request to issue a Proclamation of awareness of sleep apnea. So far, fourteen have replied with proclamations and official declarations of Sleep Apnea Awareness Day – including Rick Scott of Florida and Tennessee governor Bill Haslam. Evans is posting updates and incoming proclamations from governors on his website. His website – – also features more details about his campaign.

In the end, there is no denying that obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially deadly disorder. Not taking it seriously could mean the difference between waking up in the morning and not waking up in the morning. Even though Brian Evans has taken elevated means to raise awareness of the sleep disorder – his tragic and heartbreaking story is the same for many people that have lost a loved one as a result of the disorder. This is why you want to urge others to get tested and to start undergoing CPAP treatment right away. You also want to do the same for yourself. Your life or someone else’s life may be hanging in the balance.