What would you do with $11,000?
If I’m being honest, I would probably want to buy clothing, accessories, décor for my apartment, and put a large chunk into my savings for future travel. I know it does not seem like much, if only I could tack on a couple more zeroes, but that amount of money can go a long way. In fact, if you google “what can you do with $11,000?” your search will come up with stories of people who live on that amount for an annual income.
I am very proud to share that this amount is also how much my Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides Walk team raised this year—to be precise it was actually $11,675. This was my and Eamonn’s 5th year walking, twice in Chicago and three times in Boston, so we wanted to celebrate this by making an ambitious goal for ourselves to raise $10,000. I knew this would be tough, but I have always been one to enjoy a good challenge, and was prepared to hold a couple fundraising events, send out letters, make phone calls, and of course make good use of everyone’s favorite fundraising tool, facebook.
In March, Eamonn and I sent out a letter or email to our closest friends and families asking them to donate to our walk team and/or join us for the walk in May. We were so touched and appreciative of the contributions that continued coming in for the next few months. We received gifts from childhood friends, my grandmothers’ friends, our parent’s colleagues and friends, and even friend’s friends whom we have never met. I know I have said this a number of times already, but I can’t possibly thank everyone enough who donated to our efforts. The money goes a long way in helping to fund CF research and bring us closer to finding a cure, but it also provides endless encouragement and strength for me and Eamonn.
The Great Strides Walk, and most other walks for causes, is driven by raising funds and awareness. However, for me the CF walk is far more than just that.
Since knowing Eamonn I have obviously gotten to know a significant amount about cystic fibrosis—about the disease, what its doing to Eamonn’s body, the medical treatments, the type of care needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have grown accustomed to hospital rooms, meeting new doctors, despite my fear of them (no offense, dad), all of the equipment, etc. But there is one thing that I am not sure I will ever get comfortable with, and that is having to sit by and watch Eamonn when he gets sick, or overwhelmed with treatments, and not be able to take any of it off his plate. As his caretaker, my job is to stay strong, maintain my humor, hold his hand, rub his back, listen, and stay supportive. As his caretaker I cannot take his drugs for him, do his therapy, put on oxygen, gain more weight (well, that I can do, but it hasn’t helped him!) or take his place for hospitalizations. And what I really wish, was that I could just give him my more healthy set of lungs, or at least one, so that we could be equally balanced. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
The CF walk is something that I can do—not just for Eamonn, but for the entire CF community. For me, it is about my contribution to all those that live with cystic fibrosis, working everyday to stay alive. The money raised, the awareness to those who know very little about the disease, the unity it brings across the country, exemplifies hope, courage, support, and love. It is a moment for me to show Eamonn how much strength he has behind him and that he is most definitely not fighting CF alone.
The walk is also a reminder that there is an entire community of people just like us. As a wife of a patient, I have moments of weakness when I feel alone, as if nobody truly understands my thoughts and feelings, and not knowing who to turn to when I want to express my frustration and sadness. The day of the walk and seeing faces, looking at the team T-shirts, hearing other’s stories, I realize that I do have a CF family who struggles with my very same emotions. I feel a sense of belonging and comfort.
In 2008, Eamonn and I participated in the Great Strides walk Chicago with 8 close friends and raised maybe $300. A couple weeks ago in Boston, for our 5th walk, we were joined by a team of 25 friends and family members (including the babies) and raised $11,675. We have come a very long way over the past few years, as has the CF community. For those of you who were not able to join us on May 20th, it is important that you know how much we felt your presence. Each dollar contributed was one more push for me and Eamonn to keep striding, knowing that we have all of you as our cheerleaders.
With all the advancements that have been made in CF research and medicine, being able to contribute another $11,000 makes me incredibly hopeful—hopeful for a cure that will benefit Eamonn and my whole CF family. Perhaps next year we will strive to raise $15,000, but no matter what we will continue to walk with the rest of the CF community and invite you all to join us for years to come.