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Hi Ho Fellow Fools-

So why do I care so much about raising money for CF research, you ask?

Well, about 5 years ago a good friend of mine, Cristin McIntyre, who had just started working at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) as an events director, asked me to be on the steering committee for an annual “stair climb” fund-raising event, to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) research. At that time I didn't know anything about CF. Not only did I not know of anyone who had or was affected by CF, but I had never even heard of the disease before. So, being the good-natured person that I am, naturally I told Cristin that “I'd love to help out.” However, I did so because she was a good friend, and because I needed her to play on my coed softball team that spring. ;-) Yes, I'll be the first to admit that this was quite selfish of me. But regardless of my reasons, it got me involved in a totally worthwhile organization and cause.

Shortly after I began volunteering, I found out that Cristin had in fact worked for CFF on a voluntarily basis for 13 years (since she was nine years old), before taking a job with CFF's Metro-DC office upon graduating from college. I also found out that the cause (CF) was very important to Cristin because she had good friend and neighbor growing up who had (and still has) CF. For as she told it, “her volunteering was her was a way of making sure that this friendship lasted a lifetime.” Needless to say, Cristin's constant enthusiasm and passion for helping raise money for CF research rubbed off on me. This same passion was shared by each member of the fund raising committee, which made my first-ever volunteer experience with CFF a very enjoyable and rewarding one.

Five years later I am still volunteering on the annual “stair climb” fundraising committee. However, I can no longer say that I don't know anything about the debilitating and life-threatening disease. Nor can I say that I don't know anyone affected by the disease. Volunteering on the committee has enabled me to see first-hand the effects this disease can have on individuals, their families, and the communities around them. One individual in particular comes to mind, who really opened my eyes to the affects of CF as well as to the great strides that scientists have made (just in his lifetime) in working towards a cure. I still recall Greg sharing some first-hand stories and experiences of his at a monthly committee meeting, and how he not only captured the attention of our stair climb committee but how he captured all of our hearts as well.

If you walked by Greg on the street, you'd never know that he has CF. But growing up, Greg was told by his doctors that he'd be lucky to live into his mid-twenties. Well, Greg is in his thirties, living life to its fullest, loving his job as a stock broker, and working with CFF to try to give others afflicted with the disease an even better life than he has had. However, Greg also knows that many of the individuals with CF, the majority of whom are in their early to late teens, are worse off than he was and won't get to experience the many pleasures that he has been fortunate enough to enjoy in his lifetime. It is this knowledge of his, coupled with the fact that he has established personal relationships with others afflicted by the disease, many of whom he met in the countless doctors' waiting rooms, that Greg has felt the need to do his part in raising awareness and money for CFF. For he knows that each additional good year of living that can be added on to the life of someone fighting CF is a huge milestone, and truly a blessing for that individual and his or her family. And it is for these reasons that I feel as though Greg is without a doubt a major asset to the cause, in addition to being a living testament to CFF funding at work.

Now let me use The Fool's favorite three words to answer the question at hand: “So why do I care so much about raising money for CF research?”

1) Educate – In the last 5 years I've learned a ton about CF. And as the old saying goes, “knowledge is power.” So now that I know what I can (and should) do to help out, I feel as though I have a personal stake in finding a cure.

2) Amuse – The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation takes a light-hearted and fun approach to teaching the community about CF, and this carries over into their fund raising techniques. Events such as the annual “Stair Climb,” where 3-person relay teams race up 30 flights of stairs, have exposed 1000s of people across the country to CF through a fun and non-threatening atmosphere. Yet with 93% of donations going directly towards finding a cure for cystic fibrosis, they're not fooling around when it comes to donating money!

3) Enrich – There is no better feeling than giving back to the community. It just so happens that the way that I have chosen to do so is by giving my time and money to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. But I suggest you do your homework on the organization(s) you are considering donating to, and if it turns out that you choose CFF, then great! However, choose one (or more, if you wish) that you really understand. And better yet, if you have the option, choose one where maybe you know someone afflicted with the disease, so that can take a personal stake in finding the cure.

Why is this charity any more significant than any others?

It isn't necessarily more significant than any others. However, I can tell you that CFF relies primarily on private donations to fund its research. Since the disease isn't as prevalent as others (currently there are 40,000 people in the United States and 70,000 worldwide with Cystic Fibrosis), the large biotech firms, that we all know and love, aren't as inclined to develop a medicine or find a cure that they will only be able to sell to 40,000 people. Chances are they'd rather concentrate on a more widespread disease, such as Cancer.

If you're really looking to be sold on (and donate to) CF, but you're not sold on it yet, just take a look at their track record. Just last year for example (1999), the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was named one of the most efficient philanthropic organizations in the United States, by The Wall Street Journal's SmartMoney magazine. They also received this same award in 1997, which is given to the nation's top 10 "Charities You Can Trust" and the "Best in the Business."

For more information on CF and CFF, please take a quick look at post #2700, which is an FAQ list that I compiled a few days ago. To read that post, click here: And after reading that post as well as the one above, if you can truly say that you've learned something new today about CF and CFF, then I ask that you please share your knowledge with a friend. And please remember to consider the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation when you vote for your favorite Foolanthropy 2000 charities.

*Please Note: The name of the individual in this story was changed for privacy reasons.

Thanks in advance for your support! And, Fool on!

Todd Bissey, TMF Wheels
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