The Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History is usually a chance for people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and their families to come together and celebrate. Like so many other events this year, it became a virtual one due to COVID-19. That didn’t stop people from across the country – and across BrokerLink – from doing their best to raise money to support finding a cure for CF.
Cara Wiley is an Administrative Assistant at BrokerLink’s Glenmore branch in Calgary. Her son Calvin, 16, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just one year old. CF is a disease that mostly affects the lungs by clogging them with mucus. CF can also affect the rest of the body, including the pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestine.
Even though the annual walk turned into a virtual event, Cara and her family were determined to raise money and awareness for CF. The whole family committed to walking 65 km. They walked three to five kilometres every evening leading up to the event and used an app to track their kilometres and cheer each other on.
On the day of the walk, the family and a few close friends went out to Bearspaw, an area just outside of Calgary.
“We did our own little three kilometre walk,” Cara said. “We made the best out of a bad situation.”
Across the country, another BrokerLink employee was working hard to raise money to end CF. Sarah Fleck is a Branch Manager of the Liverpool and Bridgewater branches. She lives in Bridgewater, a small town in Nova Scotia. Her son Hudson, who is 16 months old, was diagnosed with CF three weeks after he was born.
Last year, Sarah and her family participated in the annual walk in Halifax. This year, they did their own walk to celebrate the event.
IFC matches hours volunteered and funds raised up to $1,000 per employee. That means BrokerLink employees donated over $2,000 to Cystic Fibrosis Canada. The total amount of money raised from this year’s walk was $1.83 million.
Dealing with cystic fibrosis during COVID
For most of us, staying six feet apart from others has been a new concept. People who have cystic fibrosis are already used to it.
“It’s what someone with CF goes through their whole life,” says Cara.
People with CF are very susceptible to germs and bacteria. They must always stay six feet away from others with CF, and anyone with a cold, flu or infection. COVID-19 has increased awareness about how important it is to stay home when you’re sick. For high risk people, such as those with those with cystic fibrosis, it could be a matter of life or death.
Sarah’s been taking extra measures to ensure Hudson’s safety during COVID, but she explains that when you have a child with CF, measures like these are part of your daily life.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I posted a video on Facebook of Hudson using hand sanitizer like a pro,” Sarah says. “He’s used to it. At that point, stores were running out of hand sanitizer and people were asking where I got it. I told people, ‘I’m a CF mom! I have hand sanitizer for days.’”
Luckily, both Calvin and Hudson are healthy at the moment. Hudson has been doing virtual appointments with the CF clinic. Calvin is recovering well from a lung transplant he had at the end of 2019.
What’s next in the fight to end CF?
There is still lots of work to do in the fight against CF. Cara and Sarah and their families are all working hard to raise awareness about CF.
“People see someone with CF and don’t realize how much they struggle,” Cara says. “Unless they’re wearing oxygen they look healthy. You don’t see how much they go through on a daily basis with their stomachs and lungs.”
Cara and her family are looking forward to the next big fundraiser in July called Lawn Summer Nights. It’s usually a lawn bowling event, but this year it will be a virtual trivia tournament.
Sarah is a former photographer, and later this year she will be using her camera skills to take mommy and me photos to raise funds for CF. She also plans to host a Facebook auction with prizes donated from local businesses.
There is still no cure for CF, but researchers are closer than ever.
“There’s a lot of hope,” Cara says. “We’re as close to a cure as we’ve ever been.”
These CF moms are not about to let anything stop them from raising money to make CF history.