An initiative organized last Saturday to support the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio raised $2 million for its cystic fibrosis and pulmonary programs, a historic amount for the event. The 10th annual Celestial Ball at the Duke Energy Convention Center brought together more than 1,300 people for the cause, including former Cincinnati Bengals players Boomer Esiason and Cris Collinsworth.
Gunnar Esiason, Boomer’s son, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in 1993 when he was only 2 years old. That same year, the football player and his wife, Cheryl Esiason, started the Boomer Esiason Foundation. The two co-founders are now co-chairmen and have dedicated their lives to increase awareness about the disease, as well as to plan and help fundraisers. The foundation also grants scholarships to support college students with CF and offers transplant assistance programs, since the actual procedure is usually covered by insurance, but other expenses, such as traveling costs, are not.
“It is hard to put into words what my parents have done for not only me, but also the cystic fibrosis community as a whole. As the story goes, my dad wanted to get involved in CF fundraising well before I was even born. He and my mom were at an awards dinner and Frank Deford was the keynote speaker. Frank talked about his daughter Alex, whom he lost to CF some years earlier. It really touched my dad, and so, it all began there,” wrote Gunnar in the blog he writes with his personal experience.
“Gunnar and I were honored and humbled to be part of this special evening,” Boomer Esiason said. “We continue to invest in Cincinnati Children’s because the experts there are improving child health every day.”
The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is launching a new campaign, which is expected to be the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign ever organized by the hospital, according to CEO Michael Fisher. Change the Outcome, the Campaign for Cincinnati Children’s aims to raise $250 million to help increase the children’s health and will focus on the improvement of the clinical care, the patient safety, the education and the research.
Cystic fibrosis signs and symptoms can appear during childhood, while some patients may not experience it until adolescence or adulthood. Even with early diagnosis, the eventual transition that CF patients experience from children and teenagers to adults still remains a pressing concern for advocates for fighting the disease.
Researchers from the Athens University Medical School and Aghia Sophia Children’s Hospital recently studied the psychosocial vulnerability in children and adolescents with cystic fibrosis and concluded that cystic fibrosis patients have a greater difficulty establishing friendships and making social adjustments. But the transition to adulthood may be easier with technology, since it helps patients develop independence and self-management skills, according to a different study from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
By combining new studies and insights such as these with substantial fundraising efforts on the part of the Boomer Esiason Foundation, both lifespan and quality of life for CF patients are bound to improve over the years.
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