0513 Celebrating Strides
Maddie Hagler’s team gathers at last year’s Great Strides Walk at Veterans Park.
On May 18, Veterans Park will be filled with kids crafts, Zumba dancing, clowns, music, food and a signature 5K as a part of the annual Great Strides Walk, sponsored by the Alabama chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
While held in Hoover, the event represents the CF community of greater Birmingham.
Clay Hagler, principal of the Hagler & Brocato accounting firm on Valleydale Road, is participating this year as he has annually since 2006, when his oldest child, Maddie, was born with CF.
“The walk provides the Cystic Fibrosis community the necessary funds to battle the disease on many levels,” he said. “The money raised has helped develop life-changing drugs and therapies that have increased the average lifespan of Cystic Fibrosis patients from 14 years of age to their mid-30s. Not only are we battling the disease, but we are also assisting the local economy. Many of the research studies are performed in Birmingham at UAB (at the Gregory Fleming James CF Research Center) and Children’s Hospital.”
UAB and Children’s also house the Foundation’s accredited care centers, which in total serve a combined CF population of 400 patients from across Alabama.
That represents more than $10 million reinvested back into Birmingham for CF research. Recently, Birmingham-led research efforts resulted in the development of Kalydec, approved by the FDA in January 2012.
For the local families impacted by CF, these kinds of advances mean much more than abstract science.
“When Eleanor, my niece, was first diagnosed, our family was devastated,” said CF Foundation Team Leader Deb Hamner. “Personally, I did not even know what CF was or how it affected people with the disease. After researching the disease and the CF Foundation, I quickly discovered the progress that has been made through the years. Drugs are being approved each year to help combat the disease. Doctors believe the cure may only be a few years from being a reality. I was so encouraged and it inspired me even more to do what I can to help.
“Eleanor is such a blessing to our family. She is so full of life and has a wonderful personality. We are so blessed to have this precious girl and look forward to the day when we can tell her the cure has been found.”
For more information about the race, including registration either as an individual or for a team, visit cff.org.