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!
I Made a Promise
Team: Wicked Fab, since 2007/ Team Leader: Jennifer Barrett
In 2006, I met my boyfriend, Ryan Coelho. From the moment I met him, I could tell that Ryan was an incredible person, kind and humble. Before Ryan came into my life, I didn’t know what cystic fibrosis was and I had no idea of the toll it could take on a person. I never could have foreseen how profoundly CF would impact me and, to be honest, crush me. A year after meeting Ryan, after countless hospital visits and treatments and a lung transplant at 25, he passed away at just 29 years old.
Before Ryan died, I promised him that I was going to help find a cure for CF so no one would suffer like he did. It would have been easy to spiral out of control after Ryan passed away, but I chose to reach out to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and keep my promise. I became involved with the Foundation because Ryan would have wanted me to do good with my life and I was determined to keep his memory, and my promise, alive.
When I connected with the Foundation’s San Jose Chapter, I felt like I had found my family. They gave me an outlet for my grief, letting me stuff envelopes and attend different fundraising events. In this supportive environment, I learned from the chapter how I could make a difference to help find a cure for CF. Most importantly, they introduced me to Great Strides.
I love everything about Great Strides. I love the family atmosphere and that anyone and everyone can come out to support the Foundation in the search for a cure. My family and friends return every year, as well as people who never met Ryan when he was alive, but continue to join our team because of the wonderful and welcoming event.
Every year, I work to inspire and “pump up” my team, Wicked Fab, named after Ryan’s business. We walk side by side so that I can keep my promise to Ryan. In 2014, I chaired the San Jose Great Strides Walk with Ryan’s family and our 15 to 20 Wicked Fab striders reminded people why we’re raising money. The funds that go to Great Strides help the Foundation find a cure, and that focus, along with keeping Ryan’s memory alive, drives me to stride each and every year.
It’s been nine years and I’ll be talking about the CF Foundation and Great Strides forever. I’ll continue to keep my promise.
In This Section
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Great Strides, Great Stories
Meet Jennifer Barrett, Wicked Fab Team Leader
Jennifer made a promise to her boyfriend Ryan who had CF. Read Great Strides, Great Stories to learn more about Jennifer’s promise and how she supports Great Strides to keep Ryan’s memory alive.
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