Now, before I get into this I'll say a few things briefly: I am a 23 year old living with cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is an genetic disorder that affects most critically the lungs, and also the pancreas, liver, and intestine.
It should go without saying that I'm an Alabama fan, and in my fandom in tandem with my CF have found a few connections between the two that I had never known.
The name cystic fibrosis refers to the characteristic scarring (fibrosis) and cyst formation within the pancreas, first recognized in the 1930s. Difficulty breathing is the most serious symptom and results from frequent lung infections that are treated with antibiotics and other medications. Other symptoms, including sinus infections, poor growth, and infertility affect other parts of the body.
Cystic fibrosis is the most common life-limiting autosomal recessive disease among people of Caucasian heritage. In the United States, approximately 30,000 individuals have CF; most are diagnosed by six months of age.
Now, you may read that and think, "Ok, that's interesting, but you mentioned, "and UA," and I haven't seen anything that links the University we love to this disease." Well, I'm glad you mentioned that, because I'm about to show you a few things that maybe a good portion of you did not know.
The UA Greek Connection
Since this is the most recent and honestly, the most surprising given the timing(I've been dying to write this for a while now and stumbled upon this information at the time I started pulling this together and had to share it.), I'll start with this piece from the Crimson White in which you'll read about Phi Gamma Delta and Sigma Nu hosting a "Rock Out to Knock Out CF" fundraiser for the Thomas Plott Foundation.(Facebook Page) Thomas Plott is a 5 year old with CF. His parents to date have raised over $300 thousand for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
If you're going to be in Tuscaloosa Friday between 5 and 8 PM, PLEASE stop by and donate a little to the cause. I know the Greeks have left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths, but when they do something like this, they should be commended and supported, whether it be cancer, CF, MS, or muscular dystrophy or any other disease that they're raising money for, we should at least let them know we're behind them on that even if we're with them on nothing else.
To get away from advertising:
The Bear's Connection
DID YOU KNOW THAT OUR VERY OWN PAUL W. "BEAR" BRYANT BEFRIENDED A CF PATIENT? YES! AND...*GASP!* SHE WAS AN AUBURN FAN/STUDENT!
Don't believe me? Read this article from the Tuscaloosa News. I'll add a bit of the story below adding emphasis:
"She was War Eagle all the way," said her older brother, Charles. "She would never root for Alabama."
In college, D’Anne’s health began deteriorating rapidly. During one of her visits to UAB Hospital, she met Bryant, who was in the hospital at the same time.
"When she met him she recognized something great," said Charles, an orthodontist in Duluth, Ga. "She realized the impact he had on people.
"She saw more than UA’s football coach. She saw a great man. She told Dad, ‘That man has class.’ And he saw more than a dying child."
The pair quickly became friends. Mull said that after she was transferred to a hospital in Atlanta, Bryant would drive to Georgia to lift her spirits.
"That’s the beautiful part," Charles said. "He was as Alabama as he could be. She was as Auburn as she could be. But they put their allegiances aside and recognized the good in each other."
How about that? The Bear knew someone with CF. Sadly, D'Anne is no longer with us, but she's buried just yards away from our beloved Bear. It was her dying wish to be buried next to man that took time out to be a friend to her.
The Barrett Jones and Rimington Trophy Connection.
Yes, our third Rimington finalist and the first Crimson Tide winner of the award has a connection to CF, through the Rimington Trophy itself.
The Rimington Trophy is sponsored by The Boomer Esiason Foundation. A good few of us remember Boomer for his football career, but I know him mostly because his son, Gunnar, has CF. The BEF awards scholarships to CF patients as well as organize and run several fund raisers and events to raise money to help not only treat CF, but to ultimately help find a cure.
Now, I could at this point pull out the University of Alabama System and then drag UAB into this since they serve as a research hospital and conduct several studies on treatment of CF, but for brevity's sake I'll let you Google that on your own if you're interested.
Why did I bother to write this? There's five things I care greatly about: Faith, family, freedom, Crimson Tide athletics and research and treatment of cystic fibrosis. I stumbled upon the article about Bear Bryant and D'Anne Machemehl a few months ago and was surprised and almost shocked that Bear knew someone with CF and not just anyone with CF, but at the time she died, she was the oldest known person in the southeast with CF. It kind of fits with Bear Bryant being around winners. Then, I found out about the Rimington Trophy being sponsored by the BEF after Barrett Jones won the award, and I just couldn't keep myself from sharing this information with you guys to find a way to bring CF to you while keeping it close to the subject matter of this blog(even if this is more about CF than Alabama, but...I linked to the Bear, gotta cut me some slack here. ha).
Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed reading this, but most of all, I hope that you've learned something about CF. If ANY of you have questions about CF, don't hesitate to look me up and ask me. I LOVE talking about it. Almost as much as I love talking Crimson Tide football.
Roll Tide and Cure CF!