Great Strides walks in $31,000

POULSBO — Any clouds hanging over Vinland Elementary School Saturday morning were quickly dissipated by almost 100 smiling faces gathered for the 15th annual Great Strides Walk to benefit cystic fibrosis research.

The genetic disease, which affects approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States, causes the body to produce an abnormally thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening infections.

“It’s amazing to see this many people out here and see all of their support,” said Brianna Oas, whose family organized the first walk in 1992.

As CF victim herself, this year’s walk was a homecoming of sorts for Oas, who spent the past year serving as the Washington State FFA Secretary.

During her travels across the country, she kept tabs on this year’s walk, but wasn’t able to participate as actively as she had in years past.

“Everyone really did a great job of organizing it and kept it going,” she said. “That’s great to see.”

For Oas’ father, Jim, the early morning fund-raising total had nearly met the $25,000 goal with every indication the $30,000 plateau was within reach.

“It looks like we’re going to top the $30,000 mark, which is great,” he said.

There were also five children battling the disease at this year’s event, which was an added plus, he said.

“They’re the reason we’re here,” Jim Oas said. “It’s great to see so many people.”

Numerous companies throughout the area came up big for this year’s event as they contributed to the fight in the way of sponsorships, Brianna Oas said.

Also in the crowd Saturday was the 2007 Miss Viking Fest court, which made its first public appearance at the event.

Miss Viking Fest princess Amanda Dixon has participated in the walk for several years and helped organize this year’s event.

“It’s so great getting back together, because we all sort of scattered after last year,” Dixon said. “This is so much fun.”

The fund raiser was among the first opportunities to do something positive within the community for this year’s royalty, said Miss Viking Fest 2007 Whitney Glebe.

“It’s a good opportunity to help with a good cause,” she said. “It’s our first public appearance, and we’re all so excited to be here.”

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