Matt and Kellene O’Connell
Walk: Naperville, Ill.
Team: Team O’Connell
Impact: Raised $50,000 in 2010
Why We Walk
Matt and Kellene’s son Brady, who has CF,
hit the ground walking before his first birthday.
He loves cars, playing with his friends and
snacking on his favorite foods: meatballs, fruit,
sausage, pancakes, milk and avocados.
When our son Brady was born last March, his belly was distended, and we thought he would just need a surgery to untwist his intestines. A few hours after Brady went into surgery, we learned that his intestines were severely blocked with meconium ileus — Brady had CF. And he would need a second surgery after his bowels were cleared and healed.
Almost three years ago, before Brady was even born, we started a Great Strides team for our nephew Emmett, who has CF. Because of Emmett, we understood Brady’s diagnosis and knew everything was going to be OK — and the only way to get through it was to band together and continue to fight CF.
What Makes Us Proud
We know it sounds so silly to say this about a one-year-old, but Brady’s determination and courage make us so proud. Brady has been through two major surgeries, and it was almost like he knew he had to push through it. It was inspiring. Whenever we see him smile and laugh, we just melt. Brady is an absolute stud, and we don’t see anything or anyone standing in his way.
Our Biggest Challenge
The unknown is intimidating. But we’re not scared of CF because we know we can handle it. We’re doing everything in our power to stay ahead of the curve, and we’re lucky that Brady has the determination and the will to beat this disease.
When Brady was diagnosed, we received so many calls and letters from our family, friends and the Foundation — they got us through this hard time. The CF community is incredible. I try to keep all the letters for Brady so that when he’s older, he can see how his story has touched so many people.
Our dream is that even when there is a cure for CF, Brady will continue to inspire people.
Form a Great Strides walk team today!
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