Great Strides, Great Stories

Great Strides is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest national fundraiser. Every year, families, donors and friends take steps to help support the search for a cure. In this section, we’ll feature a special person or team who played an integral role in the Great Strides walks. We hope you’ll find this story to be inspiring as we continue to make Great Strides in our efforts to find a cure for CF!

John Thomas, 2016 Ambassador.

The Great Strides Ambassadors are here to inspire all those who participate in Great Strides walks across the country and to represent the face of the adult cystic fibrosis community. 

Team: Living My Dreams with CF, since 2009

Why I Stride

I stride for a number of reasons. 

I stride because it’s exciting. I get to personally meet the people who spend their time and energy raising money and awareness toward a cure for CF. Great Strides is also the only event that I can attend and see the people that I connect with online. 

And of course, I stride for my growing family. I am married with a 3-year-old daughter and twins on the way! I often look at my toddler and think to myself, “This is why I stay committed to my treatments.” My wife is my biggest source of inspiration. She is more of a warrior than I am. It takes a special person to take on a partner with a life-threatening disease. I want to be around for her and watch my children grow up. 

Although I formed my own team — Living My Dreams with CF — in 2009, I have been walking in Great Strides for the past 12 years. I am proud to say that I haven’t missed a single walk yet!

My Favorite Part of Being a Great Strides Ambassador

It’s wonderful to have an opportunity to show people that someone with CF can thrive and do the “normal” functions of people who do not have this disease. I want to let the younger generation know that having CF doesn’t prevent you from living your life and chasing your dreams. My goal is to spread a message of positivity because although life with CF is hard, it can still be very rich and rewarding.


I have been fortunate enough to speak at the last two Northern Ohio Chapter walks, which is my way of giving back to the community. I truly believe that I will live into my 70s or 80s because of the advancements made in cystic fibrosis research and care. Today, many people with CF have a higher quality of life than in years past and there is so much more that is possible now. It’s a great time to be a part of the CF community.

While I enjoy being able to hold a full-time job in accounting and finance, I am proud to serve others outside of work. As a Great Strides Ambassador, I can share how the Foundation has given me hope for the future.  

How I Fundraise

I mainly tap my family and friends for donations. I am big into personal asks, and I am grateful for their support of my Great Strides team every single year.

What the CF Foundation Means to Me

It means the world to me. The CF Foundation has given me a future. If it wasn’t for the Foundation, I probably wouldn’t be here today. We wouldn’t have Kalydeco® or lumacaftor/ivacaftor (Orkambi®), the vest or the clinics that we go to for support. Who else would have committed time and research to this disease, which affects such a small subset of the population? Who else would have provided research dollars? Who would have funded the development of new treatments? If it wasn’t for the Foundation’s former president and CEO, Dr. Bob Beall, and his visionary approach and his faith, the community wouldn’t be where it is today. I credit the CF Foundation for allowing me the chance to live out my dreams with CF.

My Dream

I want us to eradicate CF, the way we eradicated polio. I want this disease to become something that people only read about in textbooks. And, someday, I want to walk my daughter down the aisle and become a grandparent.

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Great Strides, Great Stories


Meet John Thomas, a 2016 Great Strides Ambassador

The Great Strides Ambassadors are here to inspire all those who participate in Great Strides walks across the country and to represent the face of the adult cystic fibrosis community. 

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