Photo source: Bay Today
Cystic fibrosis can seem like an insurmountable challenge, especially when a loved one is affected by it. For those affected by the disorder, some days can be extremely challenging both for them and their caretakers.
Jon Corbett spends 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes every night simply helping his daughter, Melody, clear her lungs out. She is eight-years-old, and will fight the disease for the rest of her life. There is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis, and all of the painstaking efforts that the Corbett family takes to maintain their daughter’s health are only to prevent her from getting worse. Without a cure, her symptoms will persist for her entire lifetime.
Like many affected by cystic fibrosis, Melody and her family are refusing to spend their entire lives living in fear and waiting. They are choosing to take an active part of their daughter’s future, whatever form that may take. The average person will not wake up one day and discover the cure for cystic fibrosis, but the Corbett family decided one day that they would do their part in progressing the progress of cystic fibrosis research and treatment.
KiSS 100.5 Radio
Radio host Kevin Oschefski was introduced to cystic fibrosis through two different community events that the radio show helped to host. The first was a run for cystic fibrosis awareness, and the second was a Zumbathon. Oschefski was deeply moved by the families affected by cystic fibrosis, and took the time to get to know a good number of these families, including the Corbett family. By the time he had even a general understanding of the daily struggle of living with cystic fibrosis, he knew that he wanted to do something to contribute to their cause.
The cystic fibrosis community is powerful. Over and over again, he was blown away at how optimistic and positive the families were in light of such a difficult disorder. Everyone in the community seemed to be looking ahead to cure, and believed with all their hearts that a cure was on the horizon. Taking this energy into his own heart, Oschefski decided that he wanted to use the radio show as a platform for raising funds and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis foundation.
Unsure of how to proceed, he began looking to neighbors and local businesses for a potential partnership. Whatever form the partnership took, he wanted it to be something that the entire local area could come around and support. He knew of one local business in particular that supported his vision and his belief in giving back to the community, and he knew that their product would be perfect for a charity event. All it took was a phone call and the idea, and Oschefski found himself fully committed to a fundraiser awareness campaign for cystic fibrosis.
New Ontario Brewing Company
Mike Harrison is a Brewmaster at New Ontario Brewing Company in Northern Ontario. Since opening in 2015, the brewery has sought different ways to reach back to the community and establish itself as more than just a craft brewery. By partnering with other local restaurants and organizations, the brewery took the lead on putting local products first for residents. They hoped to become leaders in supporting local initiatives, small businesses, and community outreach throughout Northern Ontario.
The brewery was the perfect candidate for Oschefski’s plan to raise funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis. As soon as Harrison picked up the phone and heard the words, “let’s make a beer,” he was in. Everything that the brewery does is directed at improving or bringing together the local community. It was decided that part of the proceeds of the event would be donated to northern Ontario’s Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chapter—the organization itself is responsible for nearly all breakthroughs and treatment improvements that have occurred over the last 50 years.
The beer was made with Harrison’s philosophy that fresh ingredients, creativity, and craftsmanship lead to a superior product. He wanted to offer something that the local community could be proud of, something better and more special than the mass-produced beers that typically line grocery, gas station, and liquor store shelves. The end product was called Tilted Tower Broadcaster’s Ale, a blueberry wheat ale that would be launched at a special event hosted at the radio station.
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Harrison decided that 50 cents from every beer sold would be donated to cystic fibrosis research through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s local chapter. Since cystic fibrosis was identified early in the last century, the foundation has existed to understand and discover new treatments. Since the foundation was established, the lifespan of people with cystic fibrosis has more than quadrupled, an astounding accomplishment for a disease that most children would not survive without treatment.
Almost every treatment and source of information available comes from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The foundation made a critical discovery in 1989 when it identified the gene responsible for causing cystic fibrosis. From there, the organization went on to develop the first drugs specifically for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, and throughout the 21st century has continued to pioneer drugs and therapies for those who live with lifelong illness.
Everyone coming together
The event was truly special, and not just because of the funds raised. Everyone came together around the problem of cystic fibrosis and did what they could to raise support and awareness for those who go through the struggle every day. Oschefski, Harrison, and Corbett each represent one arm of community, and demonstrated the power of coming together to work towards a common goal, regardless of how affected by the issue each person was.
Jon Corbett delivered an emotional speech about what he and his family go through every day. To see the community coming together around an issue that directly affects him every day was overwhelmingly powerful, and he used his story to motivate people to help end the problem of cystic fibrosis. Corbett also appreciated that the donation wasn’t entirely a charity; everyone got to enjoy the social setting and beer while simultaneously learning about and supporting cystic fibrosis.
Oschefski believes that the day is coming soon when the cure for cystic fibrosis will be found. He said at the event that the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and researchers “are so close right now, that every little bit gets them to that day when I really believe there will be that announcement in the media that they found the cure and hopefully this is another step towards that.” The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation continues to work with gene therapies and medications that hone in on variations and genetic mutations that cystic fibrosis patients present.
For the Corbett family and all other families with loved ones who have cystic fibrosis, the cure may indeed be near. Until that time, it is up to those families and their communities to continue to push forward in hope of a cure. Oschefski, Harrison, and anyone who turned up to have a beer that day demonstrated that you don’t have to be personally affected by cystic fibrosis to want to make a difference. With this and other chronic illnesses that affect millions of people every day, it may be as simple as saying “let’s make a beer,” and taking the initiative to do something about it.