The seventh-annual Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis will be held on Saturday, May 13 and all donations will go to help find a cure for the disease.
Great Strides is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest national fundraising event. Each year, more than 125,000 people participate in hundreds of walks across the country to support the foundation’s mission to cure cystic fibrosis and raise awareness for this rare, genetic, life-shortening disease that makes it difficult to breathe.
“There is no mandatory registration fee, it is by donation only,” said Melissa Garland, co-chairperson for the Washington Court House walk. “Our son Mark had cystic fibrosis and he passed away in 2013 at the age of 26. Chyane Collins, director of the Respiratory Care Program at Southern State Community College, started this seven years ago and was a school friend of Mark’s. Cystic fibrosis primarily impacts the lungs, which is why the respiratory program and Chyane got involved.”
The walk will begin at McHenry Field on Circle Avenue in Washington Court House at 10 a.m. and is a 5K Walk. Registration will start at 9:30 a.m. and the entire community is invited to come and help raise money to fight the disease.
“We are doing this not only in our son’s memory, but also because we have seen the impact and struggle of the disease,” Garland said. “We want to eliminate that impact, that struggle, a family will have with cystic fibrosis.”
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.
In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with the disease. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
“It is called Great Strides and they have made great strides in finding good treatments for the disease,” Garland said. “There is still no cure, but the life expectancy has greatly increased since our son was diagnosed. The average life expectancy then was 14 years and now it is around 40 years. We would like to one day see the disease cured.”
For more information on the walk, or to become involved, contact Melissa Garland at (740) 505-1819 or Jim Garland at (740) 572-1707.
Information in this article was submitted by Melissa Garland.