More than 100 people are expected to turn out for Great Strides, a Cystic Fibrosis Foundation event meant to spread awareness of the genetic disease, Saturday at Forest Suites in South Lake Tahoe.
“We have families that have children with cystic fibrosis throughout the region,” said Pete Tucker, senior development director of the Sacramento chapter of the Cycstic Fibrosis Foundation. “Tahoe is such a draw in itself. It draws participants from as far away as Monterey, the Bay Area, Central Valley and we have a few families coming from Carson Valley and Reno.”
Cystic Fibrosis is a fatal genetic disease that impacts the lungs and digestive system. More than 30,000 people are inflicted nationwide and 70,000 worldwide. In Lake Tahoe and the surrounding region, there are about 400 cases, Tucker said.
Great Strides is a national event that aims to raise $42 million for research and spread awareness of the disease. So far, the event has had a significant impact, according to literature released by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“Even though this is in its 25th year nationally, Great Strides is essentially a grassroots program,” Tucker said. “Families pull their resources together, get their friends and neighbors and business associates together to help raise awareness and funds.”
Fifty years ago, those born with cystic fibrosis did not typically live past childhood. Today, those inflicted are living into their 30s and 40s, according to the foundation.
The walk has more than 680 locations around the country with over 250,000 walkers. Great Strides events were held in Lake Tahoe in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
Walkers this year will take off on Saturday morning on a 5-kilometer walk through Van Sickle Park. After the stroll, there will be a free event with information on cystic fibrosis, music and food. Tucker encourages both people impacted by cystic fibrosis and those who have no connection to the disease to come out.
“The folks that have no connection to CF take away some information,” Tucker said. “They take away some knowledge that they never had before.”
Tucker has a friend who’s daughter has lived with cystic fibrosis. She has had a double lung transplant, he said. Events like these help show the families affected by the little-known disease that the community cares, he added.
“It’s about the awareness and the support because these families go through a lot every day. It’s a grind. It’s an absolute grind.”