Walking for a cure for cystic fibrosis

Brianna Strand paints the sign for the Poulsbo CF Walk, June 1, to raise funds for cystic fibrosis. - Nick Strand / Contributed
Brianna Strand paints the sign for the Poulsbo CF Walk, June 1, to raise funds for cystic fibrosis.
— image credit: Nick Strand / Contributed

POULSBO — Brianna and Nick Strand are taking the annual Great Strides Walkathon for Cystic Fibrosis to the next level.

This year's walk is June 1 at 10 a.m., but the Strands have added even more activities for participants before the walk, so show up early.

Brianna Strand is the daughter of James and Valerie Oas, who founded the walk 21 years ago for their daughter. Strand was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 3.

Cystic fibrosis is a lung disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and pancreas. Treatment includes antibiotics, inhalers and chest percussion to break up the mucus. More than 30,000 Americans have CF.

Strand said there is already a "buzz" around town about the walk, which is 3.5 miles. The Strands also wanted to make the walk more personal to Poulsbo, and designed their own logo this year. The colorful walkers, one of which is a Viking, will be on T-shirts and water bottles, available at the walk.

"We want to make the walk something people look forward to every year, like Viking Fest," she said.

While growing up, Strand helped rally students to raise money and participate in the walk. She graduated from Washington State University last year and moved back to Poulsbo with her husband, Nick; they were married in 2011.

Brianna Strand works for a local vet while she applies to veterinarian school; Nick Strand works in video tech production for bands.

The Strands took over organizing the walk from her parents this year, adding their own flavor.

"At this point, [we] have a great foundation for the walk. All the hard work was done in the last 20 years," Strand said.

The Strands said they want to help showcase other community events at their own event.

Walkers can warm up with a Zumba lesson at 9:45 a.m. Monster trucks, hydroplanes, classic cars, and cars from the Kitsap Destruction Derby will be on display. Children can meet the Kitsap County Sheriff's K-9 unit and a crew from Poulsbo Fire. There will be a photo booth to capture everyone's smiles. The activities will continue after the walk. The walk begins at Vinland Elementary School and heads to Pioneer Hill Road. The halfway point will have refreshments and "a few surprises," according to the organizers. A local band will play after the walk.

Strand wanted to get more schools involved, and has already reached out to Bainbridge, North and Central Kitsap schools, as well as the 4H club.

At 11:30 a.m., the awards for the top teams and individuals will be handed out and the approximate fundraising amount will be announced. Last year's walk raised $10,500.

Strand said there were many sponsors and donations this year, all of which goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which in turn donates 90 cents of every dollar directly to research.

"[Researchers] are super close to finding a cure," Strand said. She said University of Washington does a lot of CF research, and there are currently drug trials that target one of the genetic mutations causing CF.

Breakthroughs in treatments in the last 20 years have doubled the life expectancy of CF patients. When Strand was first diagnosed, the average patient lived to 15. Now doctors say the life expectancy is 37 “and increasing every year,” Strand said in a previous interview.

"We're going to witness a miracle in our lifetime," she said.

"I don't think of myself [as sick], I'm speaking for those patients who can't," she said. "God gave me the ability to be healthy enough to speak for those that aren't."

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