July 2010

Above & Beyond

Above & Beyond - July 2010 - Connections - Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Lance Pepper (right) and his younger brother Luke, who has CF.

At 6 feet 4 inches tall, recent high school grad and Connecticut all-state volleyball player Lance Pepper is hard to miss.

But it’s not just this honor student’s height and achievements that command attention on and off the court.

For the past decade, Lance, 17, has worked tirelessly to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s mission to find a cure and control for CF, a disease that his brother Luke, 15, and two cousins have.

Doing Whatever It Takes

“When you have family members with cystic fibrosis, you continually focus on their health and how fast money can be raised to find a cure,” Lance says. “It is my ultimate goal to help make ‘CF’ stand for ‘Cure Found!’”

His efforts have not gone unnoticed. This year, Lance was awarded a Prudential Spirit of Community Award for his work raising $250,000 and recruiting more than 600 Great Strides walkers over the past 10 years.

In May, Lance traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with other Prudential honorees from across the country. “It was wonderful to be around a group of kids who have the same goals to help others as I do,” he says.

Lance’s efforts to put other people first began early in life. He began helping parents Jim and Claire arrange fundraisers for the Torrington, Conn., Great Strides walk when he was just 6 years old.

As he grew older, Lance reached out to his classmates and friends, explaining CF and the importance of finding a cure.

More recently, he has arranged dodge ball tournaments, car washes, faculty basketball games, and bake sales and placed collection jugs in local businesses. “We do everything we can to raise as much money as we can,” Lance says.

Strong Family Ties

When asked about his own accomplishments, Lance modestly lists off his impressive resume in a matter-of-fact tone. But when talking about his family, Lance lights up. He is quick to point out his admiration for his little brother: “Luke never gives up, he always pushes himself,” Lance says. “He doesn’t let CF hold him back.”

Lance remembers, “When Luke was in 8th grade, he ran a timed mile in gym class and came in 8th place out of the whole grade.” Now a freshman at Oliver Wolcott Technical High School, Luke has followed in his brother’s footsteps by also securing a spot on the Wolcott Tech volleyball team.

Other than Luke’s medications and the twice-a-day breathing treatments needed to control his CF, Lance describes his family as normal. “CF doesn’t really change our family,” he explains. “We treat Luke just like a regular kid.”

Looking Ahead

Lance graduated as salutatorian of his class this June and will attend Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., where he will study physical education and continue to play volleyball.

And he can’t wait for the day when he achieves his ultimate goal.

“We need to keep pushing, keep fighting,” Lance says. “All the hard work really does pay off, when you see how close we are to finding a cure.’”

Learn More

  • Form a Great Strides walk team today!
  • Want to stay connected and interact with other people living with CF and their families?

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