Great Strides Taken Across Kent Island

By Sandra Zunino

On Sunday, June 12, approximately 65 participants gathered at Kent Narrows’ Bridges Restaurant to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF).

The Great Strides Walk fundraiser, organized by Tammy Shay was the first in Queen Anne’s County of what will be an annual event. Deemed a success, the fundraiser exceeded the organizers’ goal of $3,000. Already a date of May 6, 2012 has been set for next year’s fundraiser.

While Tammy has donated her time and energy to philanthropic organizations in the past including running a marathon in Anchorage, Alaska and raising funds for an after school program, this is the first time she has been in charge of a fundraising event. Tammy says she and her husband, Pat were inspired to kick off the fundraiser to help benefit their nieces Audrey, age 12, and Olivia, age 10, who have Cystic Fibrosis.

“This is our family’s way of doing what we can to bring awareness of the disease not only to our family but to the members of the community,” says Tammy. “It’s really a different kind of thing to be personally close to the cause and be so passionate about it as well as wear the hat of organizing and directing.” The Great Strides Walk is one of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s biggest fundraisers in the country and several Great Strides Walks take place throughout Maryland.

Tammy credits Associate Executive Director of the MD CFF Chapter Ann Krulevitz for guiding her through the steps of launching a successful fundraiser. Ann is responsible for all the Great Strides and other Maryland CFF fundraising events. “She was instrumental in leading me and helping to get this established,” says Tammy. “I could not have done it without her.”

For 23 years the Great Strides Walks have raised money to not only bring awareness to the disease but also fund research and development to find a cure. Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, gives Great Strides a 4-star rating.

One out of four children who have two parents who carry the gene will be diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, as is the case with Tammy’s nieces. Approximately 30,000 children and adults in America live with the disease. The life expectancy of Cystic Fibrosis victims is now 40 years old, considerably better than 50, 30 or even 10 years ago, thanks to recently developed therapies and specialized care. Now more than 45 percent of CF patients are 18 and older and in addition to living longer, CF patients can enjoy a better quality of life.

Participants registered at Bridges, departed from the restaurant and returned to complete the walk. Bridges staff wore Great Strides T-shirts the entire day to further promote the cause. Bridges owner, Tom McCarthy was the Great Strides Anchor Sponsor. “Our hearts go out to people who must live with this disease,” says General Manager Angelique Litherland. “Next year’s event will be even bigger.”

Walkers traversed the Cross Island Trail and eventually met Susan Vianna of Fishergate, Inc., who donated her time to oversee the turn-around station. Kent Island’s Safeway donated fruit for the walkers.

“I would like to thank everyone who came out, walked and made donations,” says Tammy. “We just ask that they keep the girls and all the others who are living with CF in their prayers.”

For more information about CFF visit www.cff.org. To donate to the cause, visit http://www.cff.org/Great_Strides/dsp_DonationPage.cfm?walkid=7617&idUser=482365. For more information about next year’s fundraiser, call Tammy Shay at 410-490-1945.

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