Elise and I have been friends since kindergarten. She was the friend who always had the coolest crayon box. It was always filled with sparkly pens, giant pencils, scented markers, and all the other super cool-trendy-Lisa Frank things that little girls wanted. I’d like to think that we became friends because we were both fun kids who liked to play together, but getting to trade or borrow from her awesome crayon box was definitely a bonus.

In grade school, I didn’t really understand why Elise coughed so much or what cystic fibrosis was. At that age, I never really considered or tried to understand the consequences. A couple kids in class had inhalers, so it wasn’t anything to fuss over or stare at. But I noticed that Elise needed more than an inhaler. She was using an inhaler, always taking medicine, constantly going to the doctor, and doing treatments. As I grew up, I slowly started to become aware of her constant struggle with Cystic Fibrosis.

Fast forwarding through the next 18 years or so, Elise wasn’t able to compete with our swim team during the conference meet, she couldn’t be around her brother when she was sick (or vice versa) because he had CF too, and she spent a lot more time in the hospital. After college, she moved to Florida for grad school. It’s hard enough to make new friends in a brand-new city, and some of her new friends didn’t really understand the severity of her disease. They didn’t understand that they couldn’t go to restaurants where people were smoking. They didn’t understand they couldn’t park on the far end of the parking lot. They didn’t understand that they couldn’t spend the whole day at the beach. 

There are so many things that we take for granted. Recently, Elise hasn’t been able to walk up a flight of stairs or across the room without needing to rest.

On March 30, I’ll be running for my longtime friend, Elise. I’m running for all those people suffering with CF who are unable to walk across the room without losing their breath. I want to raise awareness to Cystic Fibrosis. I want everyone to realize what a struggle living with Cystic Fibrosis is. I want everyone to realize how expensive this disease can be. I want to raise funds to have more research done and new drugs developed to extend life expectancy. I want my friend to be ok.

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