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Raising awareness, and funds, to fight cystic fibrosis
POULSBO — When Brianna Strand was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at age 3, her parents reacted in their own way. They walked. And others soon joined them.
"They started the walk shortly after I was diagnosed with CF," Strand said. "They fought it the only way they knew how, which was through awareness and fundraising."
The Poulsbo CF Walk is now in its 22nd year, raising awareness of the disease as well as funds for research. Brianna and her husband, Nicholas, have taken over organizing the event the past two years. The walk evolved into a much larger function as the years progressed. Now, it's a family event.
"This year we have a hydroplane (boat) coming back, a sprint boat will be there, a couple car clubs will be there with their classic cars, there will be vintage tractors, soap box derby cars," Strand said. "We will have little trains for kids to ride around in. There will be a photo booth and a live band."
"The whole idea around the event is to spread word about CF and raise money for research," she said. "But we also want it to be a family event."
The Poulsbo CF Walk is May 31. Registration begins at 9 a.m. The walk opens at 10 a.m. The walk begins and ends at Vinland Elementary School for a round trip of approximately 3.5 miles.
Strand said walking isn't the only option, and that bikes, horses and skateboards are welcome on the route, as are friendly K9 companions.
Many participants form teams to take on the fundraising effort and, in doing so, wear matching clothes, hair dye, or other swag.
"We have a contest to show your swag," Strand said. "There are multiple CF teams. We encourage everyone on a team to showcase their team, whether chalking your hair or matching shirts. There's an award for showing the best swag."
In the end, the effort is aimed at raising awareness of Cystic Fibrosis, and to raise money to donate toward researching treatments and ultimately, a cure.
Cystic Fibrosis — sometimes, simply referred to as "CF" — is an inherited, genetic disease. Often life-threatening, it affects various parts of the body through a mucus, interrupting their normal function. The lungs, pancreas and digestive system are particularly harmed.
"It's a genetic lung disease but it can affect every gland in your body," said Brianna Strand. "The thing about CF is that it affects every patient differently. You can have lung problems, digestive problems, sinus problems. People suffering form CF have trouble breathing, gaining weight, they cough a lot. But they are always happy. I know that sounds bizarre, but most CF patients I've met, they have a very positive outlook on life."
Something worth noting, Strand said, because there is no cure for Cystic Fibrosis and the average lifespan of a CF patient is 35 years.
The disease affects approximately 30,000 people in the United States, and 70,000 worldwide. "They are always researching new medicine for daily maintenance," Strand said. "They are also researching a cure."
All funds raised from the walk are donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an organization that, Strand notes, uses 90 cents of every dollar toward research.
The 2014 event has already raised $3,500 before the walk, not including sponsors. Last year, it raised more than $20,000 after all was said and walked.
Participants raise money through pledges from friends, family and businesses.
More information on how to raise funds, participate in the walk, or details about the route can be found on the Poulsbo CF Walk's website, www.PoulsboCFWalk.org.