Physical Therapist Joins Fundraiser at for Cystic Fibrosis at Mahopac Lake in Somers, NY
Laurie Barnum of Sports Physical Therapy in Somers, New York was taking cold showers, standing out in the snow and putting her feet in buckets of ice. "I'm half kidding," she jokes about the training regimen she was doing in the waning days of winter, but she was definitely all in yesterday when she jumped into Mahopac Lake for the 10thannual Freezin for a Reason Cystic FibrosisFundraiser in Mahopac, New York.
"It's a cause you take on as a family," she says. In fact, when she foundout her nephew was diagnosed with the disease five years ago as an infant, she moved back east from San Francisco to help out her sister in any way she could.
The disease affects 30,000 Americans and adds 1,000 new cases every year. Born out of a defective gene, it causes the body to produce an abnormally thick, sticky mucus, which clogs the lungs and obstructs the nutrient absorbing function of the pancreas.
As a result, fighting off infections becomes a lifelong problem but while medical research has not yet found a cure, the advances cannot be denied. Since the 1950's, the life expectancy has jumped from under ten to an average age of 37. Furthermore, she says, research has developed many medications to help in fighting the various symptoms and has now identified the gene, which may lead to therapies that could reverse the course of the disease.
For example, her nephew lacks a key pancreatic enzyme to break food down into a usable form. He takes medication before every meal to help him digest food, she says.
He also has to take special medication with any cuts and is checked out by a pulmonologist four times a year. "He's fine," she says, but as thedisease can manifest in more severe forms, those immersing themselves every year make sure not to make much of their moment in the lake. "People with Cystic Fibrosis don't get a day off for a cold or rainy day so you just have to fight through it no matter what," she says.
But the chili reception that Lake Mahopac offered to the several hundred strong jumpers was more than made up afterwards at the Mahopac Golf Course party. Everyone ran back to the golf course for food, music and celebrated that their sacrifice has hopefully gotten them closer to a cure, she says.
Otherwise, the congregation which has grown incrementally since its inception, was started by the Stack family when their daughter Jaqueline was diagnosed. They started this in Mahopac to raise awareness and rally the community around the cause of finding a cure, she says.
Putting it all together might sound like a lot to those of us who are lucky enough not to be connected to an affliction such as this, but familiarity with this disease causes a transformation in a family that she knows all too well. It's a fire that drives you to help find a cure - especially when you're sure it's going to happen one day, she says.
It didn't exactly have stream coming off the lake but the kinetics are undeniable. "This is a great release of energy," she says, and the reaction so many are waiting for in a cure will hopefully pay off in a manner that is equal and opposite to the effort.