Sweating for Catie: Zumbathon raises money to help fund cystic fibrosis research
Liliana Robeson s one of four instructors who will be teaching different Zumba techniques for the Zumbathon for Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser at St. Mary's Catholic School on Saturday, May 18. (RIC DUGAN / file photo / May 31, 2011)
When she was born, the average age a person with CF expected to live was age 18. Today, it's 37.
That's why the 21-year-old Hagerstown native is hoping that people will dig into their pockets for the chance to sweat for the Zumbathon for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The event is from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 18, at St. Mary's Catholic School in Hagerstown.
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, CF is an inherited, chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the U.S. and 70,000 worldwide. The body produces an unusually thick and sticky mucus because of a defective gene.
CFF reports that 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed yearly, of which more than 70 percent are diagnosed by age 2.
Breslin was diagnosed with CF when she was 6 months old.
"I've always lived with it, so I've never known anything else," she said during a telephone interview on way to classes at Towson University, the week before finals. She's a senior majoring in mass communications with a concentration in public relations and advertising.
To keep her disease under control, Breslin must maintain a strict round of medications and treatments.
"I've tried to do daily treatments twice a day since before I could remember," she said. "I've had to take oral medication. I have to do breathing treatment in the morning, a nebulizer at night and then a breathing treatment."
And when she gets a lung infection, Breslin said she has to do another inhaled medication, which increases her treatments to three times of day, as well as IV antibiotics. She also has to take pills every time she eats as well as vitamins.
"I've actually been really blessed with my disease, though," she said, "because I've only been hospitalized with it twice, which is pretty amazing at age 21."
Breslin said she doesn't let CF slow her down by keeping on top of her disease.
"I try to do my daily treatment regiment and try to maintain my health so I can live a normal a life as possible every day," she said.
She said her parents, Hugh and Alice Breslin of Hagers-town, instilled in her that she can live a normal life. She calls them "awesome."
"I can't thank them enough, even though they were a nag sometimes," she said laughingly, " ... They are the only reason I'm healthy as I am today."
In her lifetime, Breslin has seen many advancements in treating CF, and she credits the money raised for research. Not only has the age expectancy for CF patients has increased, but the treatments themselves have improved.
"It's unbelievable how much every dollar matters for research purposes," she said.
Breslin said when she was young, part of her therapy was her parents had to pound her back to loosen the mucus. Now, there are vests young CF patients can slip on that do the same thing. New medications have also advanced.
In 2012, the Federal Drug Administration approved Kalydeco, an oral medication, for people with G551D mutation CF in ages 6 and older. Researchers have reported that it may lead to a cure of a specific mutation of the gene.
The phase 2 of the trial showed a significant improvement of lung function for people with Delta F508, the most common CF mutation. However, this doesn't affect Breslin's CF mutation.
The money raised from the Zumbathon will benefit Catie's Crew, a fundraising team which participated in Great Strides Walk. Although the Hagerstown Great Strides Walk took place May 4, there are upcoming walks throughout the state. Go to www .cff.org to find out future locations. Catie's Crew raised nearly $10,000 as of presstime Friday.
Breslin said her family has participated for 10 years in the event.
Teri Ryan McGarity, owner of Shape Up Shop Women's Fitness in Hagerstown, is hosting the Zumbathon. She said her company has done several Zumbathons that benefit organizations such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. But it's this Zumbathon that means so much to her.
McGarity said she's known Breslin because Breslin attended school with her son Billy since kindergarten. She calls Breslin "a dear friend for a long time."
"I literally owe it to her to do this," she said.
McGarity said the Zumbathon will have four different Zumbathon programs — traditional Zumbathon, hip-hop, BodyPump and Power Yoga, lead by four instructors.
"The No. 1 reason was that we need the money (for research)," McGarity said. "We need the funds to get this disease arrested. We need to fund Catie's team so she can be cured."
If you go ...
What: Zumbathon for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, fundraiser for Catie Breslin's team, Catie's Crew
When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 18
Where: St. Mary's Catholic School, 218 W. Washington St., Hagerstown
Cost: $10 per person; tickets can be purchased at the door.
Contact: Call 240-420-1886