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Estevan walked to make cystic fibrosis history

"The last three years alone, too many people have passed too soon and too young from complications of cystic fibrosis," Kasey McIntyre said ahead of the Walk to Make CF History. "We are here today to stop this alarming trend."

ESTEVAN - After two years of virtual meets and adjustments, Estevan finally got together for the Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History on May 29.

Even the morning rain couldn't scare avid supporters away. The group that helps raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for CF gathered at Rotary Park inside Woodlawn Regional Park. A walk through the park trails was preceded with addressees from dignitaries.

Walk organizer Kasey McIntyre, whose son Liam is living with CF, reminded the public that cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices, and damages lungs, the digestive tract and other organs.

"The last three years alone, too many people have passed too soon and too young from complications of cystic fibrosis," McIntyre said. "We are here today to stop this alarming trend."

She thanked those who dedicate their time to attracting attention to the disease. McIntyre said they aimed for and received about 60 registrants, and even though there was a lot of precipitation in the forecast, almost everyone showed up for the walk. Besides, they had some people joining them on the day of the walk.

"The Walk to make CF History is truly something that everyone in our community can get behind. Astoundingly, over $40 million has been raised since the first walk in 2005. It is a family-friendly event that brings people together to raise money towards the advancement of critical CF research, patient care and advocacy," said Maureen Daoust on behalf of Souris-Moose Mountain MP Robert Kitchen in the opening remarks.

Estevan MLA Lori Carr expressed her sincere gratitude to everyone working together to make CF history.

"This fundraiser makes an important contribution to supporting research and education for cystic fibrosis, as well as helping residents with cystic fibrosis across life-changing medications. That access is very important," Carr said. "Significant advancements have been made over the years for those treatments. Our government was pleased to play a role in enhancing accessibility to an important medication when we announced the coverage of Trikafta last fall.

“So, as many of you know, this medication has shown to improve the quality of life for cystic fibrosis patients, something all of us greatly value. There's always more to be done and our government looks forward to continued research and advances for treating cystic fibrosis."

McIntyre noted that 80-90 per cent of people with CF might be able to have Trikafta to treat the disease and help improve the quality of their life.

Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig thanked the community and volunteers for their dedication and continued support for the cause.

"A huge thank you to [McIntyre], all the volunteers, all the organizers to make this event possible as everyone continues to fight to bring an end to cystic fibrosis," Ludwig said.

Walkers covered two- or four-kilometre routes, attracting attention to the cause.

McIntyre said that getting back to an in-person event was a bit nerve-wracking, as nobody could guarantee that after two years of a break, people would come again. But it was tremendous for them to host an outdoor walk as it allows for a safe interaction for people living with CF. So, since February, McIntyre has been planning for the event to ensure everything goes well on the day.

"I'm really happy that people wanted to come out and be at the in-person walk," McIntyre said. "It was really important to go back to the in-person walks."

Estevan Kinsmen and Kinette Clubs' volunteers helped organize the walk.

"Kin Canada is a huge sponsor of finding a cure for cystic fibrosis. We have a great partnership," McIntyre said.

McIntyre's father Ron Dunville held a bottle drive ahead of the walk. And families of two local champions – Braden Thompson of Carnduff  and Liam McIntyre – hosted kick-off to CF Walk barbeques at Southern Plains Co-op stores in Oxbow and Estevan, respectively.

McIntyre said that now that Liam is getting older, he understands how important the ideas behind the walk are and gets more involved. He had some friends come out for the walk to support him.

The joint effort helped the volunteers raise over $10,000. The final total wasn't available yet. All money raised will be used for CF research and assistance for people living with the disease.

On May 29, Estevan was among 70 Canadian communities walking to make CF history.

"For all who have the same goal to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, it is the day to meet with our family, friends and neighbours to go further together than we ever have before," McIntyre said.