THUNDER BAY - Heidi is like any other four-year-old – she is full of energy and sees the world with the positivity only a toddler can muster. Her mother, Brittany Parker, said the only thing she would change about her daughter is to take away her cystic fibrosis and every year she is hopeful that her wish becomes closer to reality with the support of so many others.
“It really touches my heart and makes me feel so happy that our community is supporting people with CF and wants to find a cure,” she said. “It does make a difference. It takes a lot of support to get through things like this and for someone who has CF, it really shows them that they are not alone in that fight and I feel the same way as a CF parent that I am not alone in the fight and that I have my friends and family supporting me and it makes a really big difference for us.”
More than 80 people participated in the 15th Annual Walk to make Cystic Fibrosis History on Sunday joining more than 65 other communities across Canada.
Walk coordinator, Karen Danelisky, said in the last 15 years more than $31 million has been raised for cystic fibrosis research. The local walk this year expects to raise $10,000 and Danelisky said they were very near that goal Sunday morning.
The money raised in Thunder Bay helps fund research projects through the Toronto General Hospital and St. Michael’s Hospital.
“It’s nice to see the support is still in Thunder Bay,” Danelisky said. “Many people remember the Kinsmen and Kinettes Telethon that ran every year on Mother’s Day. It’s nice to see that even though that has stopped running, we still have the support from the community and they get behind us 100 per cent.”
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that can affect the pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestinal track, but most commonly affects the lungs and can result in difficulty breathing, lung infections, and a higher likelihood of developing various lung diseases.
There have been many improvements in recent years to how cystic fibrosis is treated, such as new types of gene therapy and medications, resulting in a better quality of life and longer life-expectancies for people diagnosed.
“They’ve made a lot of medical advances and amazing things have happened because of the walk and the funds raised here every year,” Parker said. “Even things like physiotherapy that people with CF have to do daily, a lot of advances have happened in that field, too. I’m really appreciative of all research that goes into it and the advances that happen.”
“We are close. There are a few drugs being developed and put out to the patients that are working on the gene itself, correcting the gene,” Danelisky added. “We are not there yet. We are close. But I think it’s a little bit off, but I am hoping we will see the cure in my lifetime.”