In truth, these forward steps are more like strides. They are great strides because new medications are winning the battle. Although the war is not yet won — this will occur when a cure is found — the ongoing battles being waged continue to tilt in the favor of CF patients.
But it has not been an easy fight and its net gains have not come without the diligence of the faithful who believe in the eventuality of a world without cystic fibrosis.
They are the families of the victims.
They are the civic campaigns of change.
They are the communities that are home to movers and shakers.
They are the schools of opportunity where science is learned and hope is embraced.
They are individuals. They are groups. They are hometowns. They are networks of humanity. And together, their strides are making the difference between a past of lives lost and a future of life renewed.
In Cleveland, such momentum is gaining tremendous ground. Its founders — a people, a place, a university and a community — call it Great Strides. It is a walk, and it is the 65 Roses 5K road race. A 13th annual event that draws hundreds of local residents each year, the 2013 version — fittingly named “Great Strides: Walk Today. Add Tomorrows” — is the brainstorm again of Lee University and a team of volunteers who share an unconditional vision of defeating cystic fibrosis.
This year’s Great Strides participants will step into destiny Saturday. The event will begin and end at Lee University, a four-year institution whose students, faculty and staff redefine the phrase “community service” with every breath.
Along the Great Strides route between the start and finish lines will be some of our city’s most historic and beautiful sections downtown and along Ocoee Street.
Registration will get underway at 7 a.m. in front of the Lee University Student Union. The 5K (3.1 miles) road race is slated for an 8:30 a.m. start, and the walk will begin at 10 a.m. Additional information and online registration are available at the event’s website at www.leeuniversity.edu/greatstrides, or by contacting Cleveland walk coordinator Rosie Adams in the Office of Student Development at 614-8406.
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of some 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. and 70,000 worldwide. In the 1950s, few children diagnosed with CF lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments — some that have come as recently as 2012 — are adding years to the lives of the afflicted. Those who once would not have lived to become teenagers now have life expectancies into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
With research comes opportunity.
With opportunity comes hope.
With hope comes conviction.
With conviction comes final victory.
This is the purpose of Great Strides, a family-friendly fundraiser that has raised more than half-a-million dollars on behalf of CF research.
Beecher Hunter, president of Life Care Centers of America, is returning for his second year as honorary chairman. Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn could have found no better leader than this longtime civic servant to sound our community’s charge against this demon disease.
Because of Great Strides, and community functions like it nationwide, it is no longer a matter of “if” cystic fibrosis can be beaten.
It is only a matter of “when.”