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Community Stories

Jo-Ann and Gordon Thow
Durham, Ontario

How one family uses volunteerism to push further for the CF Community

Jo-Ann and Gordon Thow live in the Durham region of southern Ontario, where they raised their son Simon and daughters, Megan and Sarah. Simon, now 40, was found to have CF at birth, after displaying some common symptoms. Though upsetting, his diagnosis wasn’t a huge surprise because Jo-Ann’s sister also had cystic fibrosis. Her diagnosis didn’t come until her university years and sadly, she passed away in 2014, five years after receiving a double lung transplant. 

The same year Simon was born and the same year the Durham CF Chapter was founded, Jo-Ann and Gordon began volunteering for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. They both appreciated the chance to share and learn from the community and give back by raising funds and spreading awareness to support CF research. Since then, they have held almost all of the chapter executive and committee positions. Gordon has spent more than ten years on the National Executive Committee of the Durham Chapter including serving as the National CF President between 1999 and 2001.  

In addition to remaining connected to the CF community through events, building close ties with other community members and planning fundraisers is important to the Thow family. They have assisted in organizing many events from golf tournaments, and the annual Looking Back dance, to yard sales and a strawberry festival! Simon’s sisters, Megan and Sarah, have been life-long supporters of CF Canada. Now that Jo-Ann and Gordon’s children are grown, their philanthropic work and involvement with the CF community is their legacy. Giving back to the community they have been a part of for decades has been an easy decision for the Thow family. 

“We need to continue to push forward,” adds Gordon. “We need to keep fighting until a cure is found.” 

Their son, Simon, was able to start on the life-changing CF drug Trikafta more than two years ago. He is married to his supportive wife, Amanda, has two wonderful stepchildren, and remains optimistic about the future.  

Over the last 40 years, the Thow family have seen multiple changes to the CF community. "We hope that children can be diagnosed at infancy and put on the right treatment path immediately,” says Jo-Ann. “For those in later stages of life, we hope for a cure and medications to reverse the damage caused by CF earlier in their lives.”  

For Jo-Ann and Gordon, they understand the future does not stop with Trikafta, and they are pleased their planned gifts and volunteering will advance future advocacy and research initiatives.  

“A planned gift is a way to make a significant impact in research or clinical trial work. We need to keep fighting until a cure is found.”  

Please visit our website if you would like to learn more about how to get involved with your local chapter, as Jo-Ann and Gordon did.