Riding for ‘Breath of Life’

  • Aug. 23, 2010 8:23 p.m.

Pledge forms are now available from the Central Alberta Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis for the upcoming ‘Ride for the Breath of Life’ fundraiser.

On Sept. 18, the motorcycle ride will kick off at Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson and wrap up in Rosebud where participants will meet up with riders from southern Alberta for a barbecue, prizes, a Show & Shine and much more.

“This is the second annual (Ride for the Breath of Life) for Red Deer and area, but it’s been going on nationally for 25 years in some regions,” said Sue Shaw, chair of the event. She’s also on the executive of the Central Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Her husband Keith also battles the disease as well.

She said the Foundation is also marking its 50th anniversary this year.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease affecting mainly the lungs and the digestive system. It can cause severe breathing problems. A build-up of thick mucus also makes it difficult to clear bacteria and leads to cycles of infection and inflammation which damage the delicate lung tissues.

In the digestive tract, CF makes it extremely difficult to digest and absorb adequate nutrients from food. Thick mucus also blocks the ducts of the pancreas, preventing enzymes from reaching the intestines to digest food. Therefore, those with CF must consume a large number of artificial enzymes (up to 40 pills a day) with every meal and snack to help them absorb adequate nutrition from their food.

They must also follow a demanding daily routine of physical therapy to keep the lungs free of congestion and infection.

Symptoms can include a constant cough which expels thick mucus, excessive appetite with weight loss, bowel disturbances, skin which tastes salty and repeated or prolonged bouts of pneumonia.

The Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation estimates that one in every 3,600 children born in Canada has CF.

As for the Ride for the Breath of Life event, Shaw said the route from Gasoline Alley to Rosebud takes in a number of picturesque, scenic routes. Along the way they stop at Linden for a lunch break and the day ends at Rosebud Community Hall.

“Last year, we had 28 bikers from Red Deer who met up with about 68 bikers from Calgary,” she said. Participants are encouraged to gather pledges from colleagues, friends and family. They also are required to pay a $25 to enter the ride.

Those who raise in excess of $200 are eligible to enter a draw for WestJet travel vouchers.

There will be a number of other prizes up for grabs as well, she said.

Meanwhile, ongoing research into treatments has certainly brightened the picture for those fighting this disease. In 1960, when the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was founded, a child born with cystic fibrosis rarely lived four years.

Currently, half of all persons with CF are living into their mid-thirties and beyond.

In fact, Shaw said the people with CF have a median life expectancy of 47.7 years.

Her husband Keith, 54, certainly helps keep her inspired in her work for the Foundation. Keith continues to face his illness with strength and positivity.

“He is pretty amazing – he wakes up and the first thing he does everyday is sing.”

Entry fee for the ‘Ride for the Breath of Life’ is $25 per rider or $35 with a passenger.

For more information or a pledge form, call the local chapter office at 403-347-5075 or email cfcentralalberta@gmail.com.