Walking with a Purpose

MAY 27, 2020

My name is Karen Danelisky, and I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  I don’t have cystic fibrosis (CF), but I do have many friends and a cousin who are CF warriors. They inspire me every day.

My connection to the CF community dates back to my elementary school days when I met a young girl named Carla, who had CF. My friendship with Carla carried on through my school years and through our joint involvement with our local Kinsmen and Kinette Mother’s Day Cystic Fibrosis Telethon.  My connection to the disease became personal when my cousin, Daniel, was born and diagnosed with CF.  At that point, I had even more of a reason to fundraise for CF research. 

In 2011, Carla got married and I had the pleasure of attending her fairytale wedding. Unfortunately, she lost her fight with the disease three weeks after her wedding, and passed away. Before she died, I promised her that I would not give up the fight until CF stands for Cure Found.  That is a promise that I will never let go of.  I now coordinate the Thunder Bay Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History each year in memory of Carla, and in honour of all of my friends and family who continue to fight. 

I walk each year in support of my family and friends who are living with CF, and in memory of those I have lost to the disease. I walk in memory of my friends Carla, Kevin, Jolene, Alicia, and Treena — who’ve shown me that I should live each day to the fullest no matter what life throws at me.  Participating in the Walk is my way of staying connected to those people, and keeping their memories alive. It gives me the chance to share their stories with those who didn’t get the chance to meet them. I also walk in support of my cousin, Daniel, and my friends, Brenda, Michelle, Tim, Heidi, Liam and Benjamin — who are true warriors in every sense of the word.

The Walk helps to raise much needed research dollars to help find an effective control and ultimately a cure, so that other families do not have to deal with the pain of losing someone else to this disease. 

Given the circumstances this year, fundraising has been a little tricky. A lot of people are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.  In my opinion, no donation is too small.  I have always said that even a donation of a couple of dollars may be the funds that buy the test tube that produces the cure.

For my Virtual Challenge, I plan to go to the site in Thunder Bay where the Walk is typically held, and walk the route by myself while on Facebook Live.  I’ll have on my Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History t-shirt, and my #EndCF hat with the names of all of my CF warrior friends and angels— carrying their spirit and energy around the Walk route with me.

50 years ago, children diagnosed with CF were not expected to live long enough to attend school.  Now, babies diagnosed with the disease are living much longer. The advances that have been made in the drugs and treatments used by CF patients are largely in part due to the funds raised at events like this. By signing up for the Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History and fundraising, we will get closer to the world that the CF community dreams of – a world without CF.

For the past 15 years, the CF community has come together every year at the Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History, united in the pursuit of a cure. This year, due to the unprecedented global situation caused by COVID-19, the walk has been changed to a virtual format in an effort to keep our community safe.

This year, we invite you to #walkyourway4CF. For the Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History: Virtual Challenge, you can complete your walk your way, on your own time until the end of Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month (May 31st).