Great Strides walk

Walkers braved rainy weather Saturday morning to participate in the Great Strides walk to raise money to fight cystic fibrosis. The event took place at 2410 Community Park in Harker Heights.

HARKER HEIGHTS — Accustomed to overcoming obstacles as part of daily life, hundreds gathered at Harker Heights Community Park on a rainy Saturday in support and celebration of living with purpose in opposition to a life-threatening illness.

Buoyed by encouraging personal testimony and continuing advancement in medical treatments, the friends and family members of people with cystic fibrosis walked together beneath cloudy skies and pledged to keep going “Until it’s Done,” as the event theme said.

Across the nation, more than 400 fundraising walks raise $37 million to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, accelerating treatments and extending life for those with the genetic respiratory disease. The local effort will raise more than $45,000.

Craig and Megan Hammonds of Belton, with 10-year-daughter Chloe, who has CF, stood together on a hillside at the park beneath a covered pavilion to share their story of pushing through together.

Megan said she and her husband celebrated the adoption of their daughter the same day that they received confirmation that a blood test confirmed the child, then 7 months old, had the genetic condition.

The day of celebration, Megan Hammonds said, was also one that ushered in a new reality that would be challenging, but not daunting.

“We decided we were going to live,” the mother said. Respiratory treatments, usually applied multiple times a day with the help of a bulky airway clearance vest are not always convenient and are sometimes conducted in a car or in an amusement park parking lot.

That’s the determination, though, that keeps families rolling on and thriving.

Intentionality, she said, planning to live life well and to do it with a group of supporters is important in the fight that often leads to hospital stays, countless pills to aid digestion and relentless infection control.

“CF can be a beast,” she said, “and we conquer that beast together.”

Michele Prater, nurse practitioner in the pediatric clinic at McLane Children’s Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, is part of the team that treats many young CF patients in Central Texas.

She referred to the cloudy, wet conditions and declared it “a great day to celebrate great strides.”

“You’re all strong,” she said. “You get up every day and fight. You’re all rock stars and have a lot to celebrate.”

The continual fundraising efforts, she said, lead to clinical trials that bring substantial improvement to treatments. “The funds you raise make a difference,” she said. “Together we are stronger.”

Representatives of a dozen teams, representing specific families in the area, stood together before the walk and held signs bearing letters spelling out “Until it’s done,” in reference to a continued battle to find the cure for all CF patients.

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