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Great Strides Great Stories Header

Each month through the end of the year, we’ll feature a special person or team who played an integral role in the 2013 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!

Ava - 2

Ava, 3, is the inspiration behind the Ava’s Angels Great Strides team. She was diagnosed with CF as an infant, but doesn’t let the disease hinder her free spirit.

Ava's Angels

Walk: Charlotte, NC walk held May 18, 2013
Chapter: Carolinas Chapter – Charlotte Office
Ava’s Angels, led by April Waltz and her daughter Ava, 3, who has CF.
Impact: Raised $10,000 so far in 2013

Why I Walk

Ava was four weeks old when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Prior to her diagnosis, I had never heard of CF. I did a google search for “cystic fibrosis” and after reading the first sentence, my life changed forever. I fell to my knees and just asked God to catch me and hold me.

Ava’s Angels was formed when Ava was just six months old.

How I Fundraise

This year I decided to try something different — I got the business community involved. I emailed restaurants, spas, retailers, etc. requesting charitable gift certificates and prizes that could be given to my team’s top walkers. It really worked.

Ava’s Angels raised $10,000 this year, more than three times what we raised last year.

Ava 3

Ava’s Angels, led by Ava, 3, and her mom, April Watlz, raised $10,000 to help support the search for a cure. April reminds other Great Strides teams to use the fundraiser as a way to bring people together. “This is about joining a community and working together for a common goal,” she said.


What I'm Thankful For

Cystic fibrosis has taught me to look at the world differently. I’ve learned to live every minute to the fullest. All of those challenging moments have made me a stronger person. They’ve taught me to appreciate all of the happy moments life has to offer. I would not be the strong person I am today if it wasn’t for my husband, friends and family. Ava’s Angels is a joint effort and the accomplishments we’ve made have been made as a team.

Tips for Other Great Strides Teams

You have to take time to make your campaign personal — share a story that makes someone laugh or tugs at a heart string. When people make donations, write thank you letters explaining why the fundraiser means so much.

If you are fundraising via email, keep all emails informative but positive. Limit the number of emails you send out in your campaign so they don’t become repetitive. The first email is the most important, so really make it count. Remind people that this isn’t just about money; it’s about joining a community and working together for a common goal.

Also remember that people’s financial situations can change. It’s important to get people focused on the cause, not just the money. Get people in your community to feel passionate about the search for a cure. Every single dollar counts.

My Dream

Ava has a free spirit and I want her to nurture that. I want to be able to dare her to dream bigger. I want to see her live her dreams, regardless of how many she has, how they may change, or how challenging they may seem.

Learn More

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is an accredited charity of the Better Business Bureau.