Above & Beyond
The Baker Boys' Battalion on Great Strides walk day in Atlanta.
Mary Guiney remembers when she met Pam and Jon Baker. It was December 31, 1995 and the two couples were ringing in the New Year at a party hosted by a mutual friend.
Mary’s husband, Chris, had become friends with Jon while playing flag football, and in the carefree days before they had children, the Guiney-Baker quad filled their social calendars together, exploring opportunities in Atlanta. Neither couple knew at the time that the Bakers would soon be battling cystic fibrosis with not one, but two children.
In 2002, Gavin and Jake Baker were diagnosed with CF. Gavin was just a toddler at the time, and Jake had yet to be born.
Mary recalls when she learned of the Baker Boys’ diagnosis: “The first time Chris and I were introduced to CF was when we saw the boys hooked up to these funky-looking vibrating vests with masks on the other end,” said Mary. “We looked at each other and thought, ‘What is this all about?’” At the time, they knew little about the disease, but the Guineys knew they had to help.
Today, both families, including the Guineys’ three sons, Jack, Liam and George, share sleepovers, s’mores and summers at their lake homes in Alabama. There is just one difference between the clan of best friends. “Jake and Gavin spend several hours each day doing treatments,” said Mary. “But they don’t let CF get in their way. The boys handle this disease with such grace, even at such a young age.”
Armed with the will to help, the Guiney family stepped up to raise money for Gavin and Jake’s Great Strides team, the Baker Boys Battalion. Each year, the Battalion recruits friends and family states across the United States and even into Canada. In 2009, the team raised more than $50,000 for the CF Foundation.
The inspiration for the Baker Boys Battalion, Gavin (10) and Jake (7).
To help raise this sum, the Guineys launched a St. Patrick’s Day themed party called Shamrockin’ for a Cure. This year, Shamrockin’ for a Cure drew more than 400 guests, who danced to high energy music played by ’80s tribute band, The Breakfast Club, and dined on food generously contributed by Carmine's Restaurant.
A live auction featured items including motorcycles, fine art, a room makeover by local interior designer celebrity Vern Yip of "Trading Spaces" fame, as well as two bathroom remodels. Shamrockin’ for a Cure 2010 more than doubled its goal to raise $58,000 in support of the search for a cure.
“We’re proud to stand by the Bakers in the fight against CF, and it’s incredible to see so many Georgians standing with us,” says Mary. “My hope is that in five years, we’re raising money for something else because CF stands for ‘Cure Found.’”
- Sign up for a Great Strides walk near you.
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