Travel Lake Anna might look like a typical travel agency dedicated to promoting vacations around Lake Anna, a state park located in Virginia. However, the company has a unique business model and purpose. Husband and wife team Chris and Laura Denkers created and manage the company in support of their two sons who were born with cystic fibrosis (CF), establishing Travel Lake Anna as a nonprofit company focused on raising funds to find a cure for the chronic disease.
The Denkers’ sons are five year-old identical twin boys, Wyatt and Riley, who were born three months premature at 28 weeks, due to a bowel obstruction in Riley known as meconium ileus which caused a perforation of his bowel. Right after being born, the twins had to stay for three months in the NICU of St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, NY and underwent a series of surgeries.
By the time the newborns and the new parents were able to go home, the state of New York started requiring the screening of babies in order to test them for genetic diseases. “It was found that both boys had two different mutations of the CFTR gene, DF508 and D1152H and in return have Cystic Fibrosis,” explained Laura Denkers in an interview to Cystic Fibrosis News Today.
“As new parents to twin boys who were three months premature, we had no idea what CF was, how it affected people, the treatments or anything of that matter, but we soon learned as much as we could,” she said. However, the Denkers never chose to accept that a CF diagnosis leads to a life expectancy of about 37 years, as well as lung infections and shortness of breath due to the abnormal mucus creation and difficulties is gaining weight caused by the bowel abnormal functioning.
Instead, the couple dedicated to create Travel Lake Anna and use all of the company’s profits to help not only their sons, but also the 70,000 CF patients throughout the world, 30,000 of whom live in the Unites States alone. “The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has been making great strides in helping to find a cure for this deadly disease and we wanted to do what we could to help find a cure for our boys by the time they graduate high school,” continued Laura. “That is a big reason why we started Travel Lake Anna.”
Travel Lake Anna is used by the family to organize several events at the Lake, which hosts thousands of supporters that contribute to finding a cure for CF, as the proceeds are invested by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) in promising research. The major event organized by the company during the Spring is the Lake Anna Brewfest, a beer tasting fest that united more than 2,500 people last year, its inaugural edition.
The Lake Anna Brewfest is taking place on May 16, from 12 to 6 pm at the Cutalong, and will include 41 different Virginia and regional breweries and more than 85 different beers to sample. “Along with beer sampling, attendees can visit over 40 different food, wine, craft and local business vendors,” explained Laura. “The Lake Anna Brewfest is a family friendly event with face painters, games, moon bounces and more. Making the event family friendly was a big priority to us as we bring our boys with us everywhere and wanted to make sure our events did not exclude anyone.”
More information about Travel Lake Anna and the Lake Anna Brewfest is available on the website of the event here. Tickets for the event cost $20 for the general public, $40 for VIP admission and $10 for visitors under 21 and designated drivers.