ESTEVAN - Estevan's Kasey McIntyre and her family have been well-known in the community for their efforts in raising awareness and funds for helping people living with cystic fibrosis (CF) and a cure for the disease. Now she's also been recognized on the national level.
Cystic Fibrosis Canada recently named McIntyre as the volunteer fundraising champion for Western Canada and the Prairies region. The award is now on its way to Estevan.
"I was notified by Janice Daniels, who is CF community co-ordinator for the walk in the Prairie region … She notified me on behalf of Cystic Fibrosis Canada, that the Canada and Prairie region volunteers award was going to be on November 30 and that I was nominated for an award and I won," McIntyre said.
She was given a week's notice so she could invite family and friends to partake in a virtual ceremony and to share that moment with her. McIntyre said that when her phone rang, she thought Daniels was calling to talk about the 2022 CF walk, and couldn't even think that she was an award recipient.
She said Cystic Fibrosis Canada awarded three individuals and one service group in the region for their dedication to the cause with different awards.
"It's a way to recognize people's work within the CF community in the Prairie provinces," explained McIntyre. "It was a different way, doing it virtually, but it was nice to see the people that got their awards and people congratulating them and listening to the recipients and how they work so hard. All of us do.
“But I was very, very grateful to be nominated and selected as an actual award (recipient) for my fundraising efforts. It means a lot because I do work very hard with advocating for cystic fibrosis, and my family does."
McIntyre, whose son Liam is living with CF, has been raising awareness and advocating for the cause for at least 10 years, raising thousands and thousands of dollars towards research aimed at one day finding a cure for the disease. Every year McIntyre, her family and other local volunteers do a Walk for CF.
"There's a lot of things we do. For the last walk we hosted in 2021 here, as a team, our goal was to raise $3,000. And we raised over $7,000, in our community here, and we were so shocked by how much people care," McIntyre shared.
She and her mother also send out Mother's Day teatime greeting cards, which provide some information about the disease and remind people about the need to consider donating. They also go to different events related to CF, happening in other communities. And all of those efforts don't go unnoticed. Not only was she recognized through the award, but she also notices that people around her know and care more about the cause as time goes.
"The more we get that out there, the more change will come," McIntyre said.
She added that recently a new medication, Trikafta, was approved to be used in Canada after a big push on behalf of CF activists and volunteers, and that drug will improve the lives of many people living with CF.
"I know a few members in Saskatchewan that have cystic fibrosis and are eligible for this new drug. And the impacts that it has already done for their health is instrumental, they can't believe how much it has changed for them," McIntyre said.
Her son is prescribed with a different medication that controls his condition, but she said that there are still people who don't have the disease at bay. Besides, no cure has been found yet, so she will continue her work until that changes.
"I'm not going to be done. There are tonnes of people like me who volunteer, fundraise and work really hard to find a cure for their family member or someone that they have lost to the battle," McIntyre said.
"And at the end of it, we still want a cure, more than just doing the regimen of a pill."
She added that they are looking forward to holding another Walk for CF in 2022, and hopefully if there are no restrictions, this year they will be able to do it in person like they used to before the pandemic.
CF is a progressive, genetic disease that causes long-lasting lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. While it's a relatively rare disease, it's affecting the lives of over 4,200 Canadians or roughly 1 in 3,600 live births, according to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Registry's 2016 annual data report.