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 2011 Great Strides, Great Stories

Each month through the end of the year, we’ll feature a special person or team who played an integral role in the 2011 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!

Pam Baker

Pam Baker and sons
Pam Baker and sons Gavin (left) and Jake (right), who have CF, lead the Baker Boys’ Battalion Great Strides team with dad Jon and siblings Sabrina and Duncan. Both boys enjoy sports and look forward to becoming dads someday. 
Walk: Atlanta, Ga. Georgia Tech campus Great Strides held May 21
Team: Baker Boys’ Battalion, led by Gavin, 12, and Jake, 9, who have CF; siblings Sabrina, 6, and Duncan, 2; and parents Pam and Jon
Impact: Raised more than $170,000 in 2011

Why We Walk

When our sons Gavin and Jake were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, we visited the CF Foundation website and learned about Great Strides. It seemed like a natural fit for what Jon and I like to do — I was regularly running 5 and 10K races, and we love sports — so we just jumped in with both feet. It was a way for us to say: We’re not going to sit back and wait for somebody to find a cure. We need to take an active role in this.

Walking in Great Strides helps me feel like I have some control over the future. It gives me an outlet to feel like I’m making a positive difference and changing the direction of my kids’ futures.

Our Path to Fundraising Success

Jon and I are both very competitive, so we asked our local CF Foundation chapter and clinic who the top fundraisers were and what we needed to do to beat them — and we did that first year!

Since then I’ve chaired our local walk for a few years, and now I’ve signed on to serve as National Family Team Chairperson for the 2012 Great Strides campaign. I’m excited to help other teams branch out to have walkers in other cities like we do. This upcoming walk is our 10th anniversary of being in the CF world, and we’ll have teams in at least eight sites across the United States and in Canada.

I’ve found that once people learn about cystic fibrosis, they want to help — and asking them to participate in Great Strides gives them a way to feel empowered as well. People really want to be a part of something this big, with a disease that really is treatable and curable.

What Makes Us Proud

Jon and I are proud when we see the boys give 110 percent in whatever they do. Gavin is a wakeboarder and he also plays football, lacrosse and basketball and plays the piano. Jake likes baseball, football and Broadway, and he’s taking drum lessons. Both boys and their sister Sabrina also take karate.

Our Biggest Challenge

Our biggest challenge in dealing with cystic fibrosis is time. Their schedules are full, and it’s difficult to fit everything in, find time to eat, and make sure we’re not skipping any treatments when constantly on the run. Every morning and afternoon, Gavin and Jake need to do the vest, hypertonic saline and Pulmozyme, which takes about two hours, along with pills, supplements, and nutritional shakes throughout the day.

Jake has pseudomonas (p. aeruginosa) right now for the first time in seven years, so he has to do TOBI (an inhaled antibiotic) on top of his normal routine, which makes his daily treatment regimen over three hours long. It’s really difficult to add the additional treatment on to an already packed day, and the thought of doing the whole TOBI treatment cycle over again if Jake recultures pseudomonas in the future is overwhelming. We have our fingers crossed that we got rid of it.

My Dream

In the here and now, Jon and I focus on keeping our kids as healthy as they can be. Looking to the future, our dream is that Gavin and Jake are able to enjoy their lives to the fullest in good health, whatever they choose to do. We hope that they find something they love to do and meet the loves of their lives.

Form a Great Strides walk team today!
 

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