Volunteers Pass the Passion at Cystic Fibrosis Foundation VLI Conference

March 26, 2009

"Pass the Passion" was the theme of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's 2009 Volunteer Leadership Conference. Click on the image to watch a slideshow.

Click on image to watch a slideshow.

“The success of our organization begins and ends with everyone in this room. Our excitement and passion have never been stronger than right now.”

With these words, Robert J. Beall, president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, welcomed the 260 volunteers and Foundation staff who gathered in Falls Church, Va. March 19 - 21 for the 2009 Volunteer Leadership Initiative conference.

“Pass the passion, cultivating friends” was the theme of this year’s conference, and the message resonated in workshops and presentations throughout the weekend. United in the quest to find a cure for CF, volunteers and staff shared personal stories and innovative fundraising ideas, learned how to hone their outreach efforts to bring new volunteers to the CF mission and expanded their knowledge of effective fundraising strategies.

The conference kicked off with March on the Hill, the Foundation’s annual advocacy outreach effort on Capitol Hill, which brings together volunteers and members of Congress in Washington, D.C.

A strategically focused group, armed with information and urgency about finding a cure for CF, spoke directly to Congressional representatives and their staff about the need to advance CF research, raise awareness of the disease and provide better access to CF care and medications.

Video Clips Available Video Clips Available

Items containing this icon Video Clips Available, offer video clips of some of the volunteers who attended. To watch each clip, click on the corresponding image or icon. You will need the latest version of Windows Media Player to watch the videos. Download Windows Media Player here.

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Angela Kinney, a volunteer with the Western Pennsylvania Chapter, talks about the importance of the Volunteer Leadership Conference.

Video Clip Available Angela Kinney, a volunteer
with the Western Pennsylvania
Chapter talks about the importance
of the Volunteer Leadership

Tackling Today’s Economy

In a weekend where today’s economic realities were uppermost in the minds of conference attendees, hope and optimism about maintaining fundraising success remained strong.

According to C. Richard Mattingly, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Foundation, “The greatest challenge we face this year is an economy like no other, and we have our work cut out for us.” He emphasized, “We will weather this storm if we stay strong, if we stay focused and if we stand together as a team.”

Mattingly also noted that our greatest asset is the ability to talk to one another. “People don’t give to diseases,” he said. “People give to people. And just look around right now—the people you see are the very best. You keep us strong. ”


Attendees paid rapt attention to the keynote address from Don Wood, Chair of the Foundation’s new Corporate Leadership Council. “The real secret of all fundraising, Wood said, “is that it’s not just a series of efforts, it’s a state of mind—one you need to be in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.”

Newly minted National VLI Co-chair Kelli Clark from the Carolinas Chapter, discusses the need to spread CF awareness and recruit new volunteers.

Video Clip Available   Newly minted VLI
co-chair Kelli Clark, Carolinas
Chapter, discusses the need
to spread CF awareness and
recruit new volunteers.

He continued, “At every soccer game you attend, every lunch date, every moment of your life, you need to be thinking ‘am I in some relationship where I can interest the other person in the CF Foundation and our mission?’” Every relationship, he noted, can lead to a potential lead.

Recognizing Outstanding Fundraising Achievements

VLI was also a time to congratulate those chapters who had achieved outstanding fundraising success over the past year. At the Friday evening dinner, a number of chapters were recognized for their outstanding efforts in generating revenue, expanding major gifts contributions and achieving the highest dollar growth in small, medium and large markets throughout the country.

In addition, awards were distributed to the corporate partners and friends who have so generously supported the CF Foundation for so many years. In presenting the award for Outstanding Corporate Partner to longtime Foundation friend Bernie Willett of American Airlines, Mattingly said, “American Airlines is more than a partner to us—they have become family. Ours is a relationship between a great American company and an organization with a great purpose.”

Accepting the award, Willett said, “Twenty-four years ago, I talked to my folks about aligning ourselves with the Foundation, and the rest is history. But I’m getting old now, Rich, so can we please find a cure for this disease soon?”

Other corporate honorees included BB&T and Gilead Sciences, Inc., who each got the Corporate Champion of Hope award; and FedEx, Sabre Travel Network and Solvay Pharmaceuticals each received the Spirit of American Award.

The Reason We’re All Here

VLI 2009 Cassalinas

Video Clip Available   National Advocacy Chairs
Mark and Margarete Cassalina
from the Greater New York Chapter,
share their experience advocating
for people with CF on Capitol Hill.
Frank Deford, chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the CF Foundation provided one of the evening’s many moving highlights with the presentation of The Alex Award to Danny Bessette. Danny has been a volunteer with the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Chapter since he was a toddler and appeared on the cover of the September 1989 issue of Science, announcing the CF gene discovery.

The Alex Award, was created in memory of Frank’s daughter Alex, who passed away in 1980, and is given to an individual with CF who fights the battle against this disease with courage, determination, and hope and is a role model to others with the disease.

At 25 years old, Danny, noted Deford, is living proof that “young people who have CF can strive to be just like anyone else without CF—only better!” In accepting the award, Danny said, “The CF Foundation has been a giant family to me. You’re the reason I’m here today.”

Chapter Fundraising Awards

Most Revenue Generated by New Volunteers in a Small, Medium and Large Markets, respectively

  • Sooner Chapter-Tulsa Office
  • Virginia Chapter
  • Greater Illinois Chapter-Chicago Office

Special Recognition, Major Gifts

  • Texas Gulf Coast Chapter
  • Colorado Chapter - Denver Office
  • Tennessee Chapter – Nashville Office

Highest Dollar Growth in a Small Market

  • Sooner Chapter -Tulsa Office
  • Northern New England Chapter

Highest Dollar Growth in a Medium Market

  • Northern Ohio Chapter
  • Tennessee Chapter - West Tennessee Office

Highest Dollar Growth in a Large Market

  • Greater New York Chapter
  • Colorado Chapter – Denver Office

Top New Event

  • Southern California Chapter - Orange County Office, Pipeline to a Cure

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