Saturday, May 07, 2016

Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation May 22 at Diversey Harbor

There's still time to register for, or donate to, the Great Strides Chicago Walk for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The event steps off from Diversey Harbor on Sunday, May 22 at 11:00 a.m. Registration opens at 9:30.

If you click on the first link in the preceding sentence, you'll be taken to a page where you can register as a walker, register a team to walk, or donate to the cause.

But -- as you've no doubt guessed already -- this isn't just a generic plug for a charity walk. I have an angle.

One of the "teams" registering for the walk in two weeks is called "Katie's Smelly Cats," a group organized in honor of Katie Kelly, who passed away this January, at only 26 years of age, from CF-related complications. That's a link to the team page in the preceding sentence; that's a fairly recent picture of Katie Kelly on the right.

Katie's Smelly Cats is the brainchild of three of Katie's lifelong friends and grammar school classmates (Immaculate Conception School, Class of 2004), Brigid Olsen, Bea Toda, and Allison Welch. (On the left you see Katie Kelly and my younger daughter Brigid, to Katie's right, at a birthday party a long, long time ago.) The team name, I'm told, was inspired by the TV show Friends. Don't ask me how; I don't know. What I do know is that my older daughter, Katie Stoner, has volunteered to help her sister and Bea and Allison organize this fundraising effort. I was asked to give their joint efforts a little publicity. "Well, Dad," one of my daughters said, "you're always publicizing fundraisers for judicial candidates. How about our event?"

And I didn't think either one of them ever read this blog.

Anyway, for any of you who might not know, cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits a person's ability to breathe. The defective gene causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients. This is not one of these extremely rare conditions that afflicts only a few. The Kellys aren't even the only family in my parish who have had to cope with this condition.

CF affects different people differently, some worse than others. Katie Kelly was often sick. She had long stints at Children's and, later, at Northwestern -- but she was no invalid. In between these "tuneups," as they were sometimes called, she was as vital and energetic as anybody else. And maybe just a wee bit more besides.

Great strides (notice how I worked in the event name there, kids) have been made in controlling the disease in recent years, extending life expectancy for persons with CF, but there is as yet no cure. Events like this upcoming May 22 walk will help, eventually, to find that cure.

1 comment:

John and Eileen Kelly said...

Thank you, Jack Leyhane, for pubicizing the Great Strides Chicago walk for Cystic Fibrosis on May 22, 2016 at Diversey Harbor. I am also grateful to your daughters, Katie and Brigid, along with Bea Toda and Allison Welch on their organization of this fundraiser in our daughter's name. We hope, one day, that CF will stand for "Cure Found" to help the other children and young adults who suffer from this genetic disease.


John and Eileen Kelly