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Volunteer Advocate
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Spotlight: Putting An End To CF, One Pitch At A Time

Meet Neil Power and Grant Taylor. Both of these gentlemen work as provincial employees of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. They have both participated in the long-standing, employee softball tournament that donates proceeds to Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

Throughout the month of November, we will be highlighting some of our dedicated donors and fundraisers like Neil and Grant. Read below about their involvement with the tournament and CF Canada:

Could you please introduce yourself?

I’m Grant Taylor and I’ve worked in government for four years. I work in the Department of Natural Resources as an analyst in the mines branch.

I’m Neil Power and I’m a program planner with Department of Transportation and Works for the Provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve worked in  many positions with the government for 30 years, and that’s how I’ve gotten involved in the employee softball tournament charity event.

What is your connection to CF?

Grant: I actually didn’t know anyone who was living with CF, so my connection to it comes from this charity event.

Neil: The community where I’m from – Bell Island – has several families who have members who carry the CF gene or have the disease. I’ve seen a lot of their children over the years pass away while I’ve seen others progress and continue to do well.  In fact, one of our environmental engineers, PJ Shea, who was living with CF, had survived a double-lung transplant, died just over a year ago. We created an award for sportsmanship in his honor this year and gave a donation to his family. The award is called the “PJ Shea Memorial Most Spirited Player Award.”

Can you tell me more about your company’s fundraising initiative?

Neil: It’s a weekend softball tournament that’s only open to government employees. We play in two divisions, this year it was 12 teams, and we play all weekend and raise money through tickets and canteen sales. The tournament started about 40 years ago by employees, again from Bell Island, who had a connection to CF. In the beginning, the rule was the winner and runner up of the tournament could each pick which charity would receive the donations for the following year – split evenly. But we have always kept Cystic Fibrosis Canada as the charity. I think because of the strong connection to the disease in our area.

Grant: I had played softball growing up so when I heard about the tournament I was excited to join. And I’ve always been an enthusiastic and ambitious person, so I was asked to be a team representative and became Chair for the event. The tournament takes place in June, but there is a lot work to do before the weekend and I sort of spearhead that with help from some pretty amazing co-volunteers. Making schedules for meetings with reps, getting our lists together for supplies, making sure everything – including our canteen – is ready to go for that weekend. Then making sure we reach out to businesses for donations – we sell tickets on these so the earlier we start asking for donations, the better items we can get which will generate the most money for CF Canada.

What has been the greatest highlight of supporting CF Canada for you?

Neil: The tournament itself is so social and jovial – a great chance for employees to spend time with their colleagues outside the work environment. However, because of our connection to the families involved, I’ve watched one son grow from a 7-year-old kid to survive a double-lung transplant and live to get married and have kids of his own. To see the change in the life expectancy of people with CF, even in this short period of time, and the quality of life improve is absolutely amazing.

Grant: Seeing everyone is such great spirits as they play in this tournament is amazing. Working in government can be frustrating at times, but having a weekend like this to get everybody out and have a chance to meet and mingle with other government employees from other buildings or areas is really nice. It’s a big weekend and people talk about it and look forward to it all year. And though you have 12 teams in the tournament, everyone is on the one team supporting CF Canada and it’s great that everyone knows that.

What will #aworldwithoutCF mean to you?

Grant: It would mean more time for those who live with the disease to spend time doing fun activities, being with their loved ones and living a much less stressful life.

Neil: I’d like to see all these diseases that are genetically linked be put to rest and hopefully some genetic research done to finally find a cure. There are lots of diseases that are worthy causes, but with this one you can actually see progress in the research; it would be great to see it get to a point where it’s eliminated.

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