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Cystic fibrosis walk makes Great Strides

May 23, 2004|By PEPPER BALLARD

SMITHSBURG

Walking briskly along the side of a street Saturday afternoon, Kaelii Stout, a 10-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, said she's felt pretty good lately.

Kaelii was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system, when she was 2 months old, said her mother, Paula Stout, chairperson of the Great Strides Walk that was held Saturday afternoon at the Smithsburg Lions Club Park.

The 10-year-old girl straps on a vest for 45 minutes each day that vibrates her lungs and loosens mucous. She also must take pills to help with digestion, Stout said.

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"She takes good care of herself," Stout said, adding that the disease has made her daughter very strong and mature.

Kaelii said she's grateful that others are taking the time to care for those who struggle with the disease.

Stout said 100 people registered to walk Saturday and $20,000 was collected in pledges.

Jessica Burgess, 17, walked Saturday with friends from Smithsburg High School's Student Government Association.

She said the student organization has donated money to cystic fibrosis research in the past. Burgess said she knew a 13-year-old boy who died from the disease about two years ago.

Pauline McAfee, 68, of Sabillasville, said she was walking to support her friend's 16-year-old grandson, who has cystic fibrosis.

"I'm just grateful that I'm able to breathe well," she said. "I'm just doing my iddy-biddy part to breathe for someone who can't."

Teresa Blanchette, 25, of Hagerstown, said she has cystic fibrosis, but has not had many issues with the disease lately, except for some allergies.

She said she thought that it was "awesome" that so many people came out Saturday to walk.

Kaelii's aunt, Raquel Peiffer, 34, of Fairfield, Pa., said she doesn't think that enough people understand the nature of cystic fibrosis, a disease she said will leave a person feeling good one year and awful the next.

The latest life expectancy for people with the disease is about 32 years, she said.

Peiffer said 88 cents of each dollar raised at the event goes toward research for a cure.

Her friend, Connie Martin, 55, of Fairfield, Pa., said, "The more time we can buy, the better."

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