ASU Lutheran club raises money to help advance cystic fibrosis research

Lutheran Ministries at ASU is holding fundraisers during the spring 2019 semester for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

In a lab in the Life Sciences Center, ASU senior Sarah West first heard about cystic fibrosis – a disease that affects more than 30,000 people in the U.S. alone, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

But West, who is majoring in microbiology and the president of student faith organization Lutheran Ministry at ASU, did not want to stop there.

With the desire to combat the disease, West convinced the club to make its main service project for the spring 2019 semester about raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The foundation supports a broad range of research to help those with cystic fibrosis, including searching for a cure for the disease.

The club will be hosting a swing dancing night on March 1 and will be participating in Great Strides on April 28, a 5K that raises money and awareness for the foundation.

West said that she wanted to focus on helping the foundation in order to help further the research it's done to help improve the lives of those suffering with cystic fibrosis, who she said have short life expectancies and are often limited in the opportunities they can pursue, such as going to college. 

The median life expectancy for a person with cystic fibrosis in the U.S. is 37 years, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“(The lifespan for someone with cystic fibrosis) has dramatically increased from what it used to be where kids wouldn't live to see the first day of school,” West said. “The reason the lifespan has expanded so much is primarily due to financial contributions of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation."

People with cystic fibrosis are largely susceptible to other diseases because of how the disease suppresses the immune system. This aspect of the disease makes avoiding germs a high priority for people with the disease, creating a big obstacle for those with the disease to attend college, West said.

“There's lots of people with cystic fibrosis who don't get the opportunity to go to college,” she said. “If you (someone with cystic fibrosis) touch someone who's slightly sick, and that person with cystic fibrosis gets sick, that can end their life because their immune system can't deal with lung infections."

Ethan Berglund, a junior pursuing dual majors in engineering and U.S. history and a member of  Lutheran Ministry at ASU, said it is important to support people with cystic fibrosis and include them.

“People are suffering, that's always an awful thing,” Berglund said. “(Cystic fibrosis) makes it very difficult for them to go to college and live a normal life so they don't get the same experiences that we do."

Austin Fairbanks, who is a senior majoring in politics and the economy and an active member of the Lutheran Ministries at ASU, said that we should care about the cause because people with the disease are not too different from anyone else.

“There's 30,000 in the United States that have this condition, and everyone has some condition, everyone has something,” Fairbanks said. “I think that we can help other people and we can build a support network.”

West said that the second event they’re doing, Great Strides, is effective for this cause because it takes place in cities across the country and aims to get as many people together to raise money for the cause.

West said that even people who can’t attend either of their events can still help and be involved in a very simple way.

“One of the biggest things people can do to help people with cystic fibrosis is honestly by practicing good hygiene,” such as washing their hands, West said.

"Anything that's contaminated with your germs is the danger for someone with cystic fibrosis," she said.


Reach the reporter at tlhill9@asu.edu and follow @hilltroy99 on Twitter. 

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