CF Foundation Recognizes Contributions of Four CF Community Leaders at the 2016 Volunteer Leadership Conference

On Mar. 11, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation presented the Alex, Jena and Dream Big Awards to leaders in the CF community for their dedication to the Foundation's mission of finding a cure.

April 1, 2016 | 4 min read

The Dream Big Award

More than 500 CF Foundation volunteers and community members looked on as Joe O'Donnell, one of the CF community's most visionary and passionate leaders, received the first Dream Big Award, which recognizes individuals who dare to push the boundaries of what is possible in order to advance the mission of the CF Foundation. Joe was honored as a volunteer and fundraiser who has made a remarkable difference in the fight against cystic fibrosis.

Joe and his wife, Kathy, became involved with the Foundation in the 1980s in honor of their son Joey who had cystic fibrosis. They began The Joey Fund as a tribute to their son and to honor those fighting CF today. For the last 30 years, Joe has made a lasting impact by encouraging philanthropic giving. As the chair of two of the Foundation's most successful major gift campaigns, Milestones to a Cure and Milestones II: Accelerating the Search for a Cure, Joe garnered hundreds of millions of dollars in support of the fight against CF. He began numerous events, such as the annual Joey O'Donnell Film Premiere and the famous Hot Dog Safari, to make a difference in the lives of people with CF. 

The Jena Award

Rosemary and Jim O'Neill were presented with the 2016 Jena Award, named for Jena Cassalina, the daughter of Marc and Margarete, who lived courageously with CF until the age of 13.

Margarete and Marc Cassalina present Rosemary and Jim O’Neill with the Jena Award at the 2016 Volunteer Leadership Conference Annual Awards Dinner.
Margarete and Marc Cassalina (right) present Rosemary and Jim O’Neill (left) with the Jena Award at the 2016 Volunteer Leadership Conference Annual Awards Dinner.


Rosemary and Jim received the award, presented by Marc and Margarete, for their dedication as 20-year volunteers for the Foundation. Their strong commitment to curing cystic fibrosis and supporting people with CF resulted in more than $1 million dollars in philanthropic support. They began their journey with the Foundation by walking at a Great Strides event to support their neighbors, whose two children have CF. They have been party hosts, committee chairs, title sponsors and major donors for the Western Pennsylvania Chapter event A Passion for Wine, tirelessly working at engaging new sponsors and auction items and serving as committee members each year. 

“The dedication that Rosemary and Jim have toward the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and my family comes from their hearts,” said Janet Brendel, the O'Neill's neighbor and mom of two children with CF. “The Western Pennsylvania Chapter and my own family have greatly benefited from the O'Neill's generous spirits and feel they are well deserving of the 2016 Jena Award.”

The Alex Award

Andy Lipman received the final award of the evening, the Alex Award. Each year, the Alex Award is presented to a person with CF who is a role model to others with the disease and embraces perseverance, showing unflagging courage in the face of this challenging disease. The award, presented by Frank Deford, chair emeritus of the CF Foundation Board of Trustees, is in honor of Frank's daughter, Alex, who passed away from CF at the age of 8. 

“He is an absolute dynamo and a model whom anyone with CF can look up to,” Frank said of Andy in a video presenting the award. 

Andy is the chair of A Wish for Wendy's Softball Challenge, an event supporting the Foundation's Georgia Chapter in its sixteenth year that has raised more than $2.7 million. Andy is also a member of the Foundation's Adult Advisory Council (AAC), supporting the Foundation's mission to find a cure and support people with CF today.

“There are 69,999 other people that have this disease worldwide and I want to help them, I want to show them we can live a longer life,” said Andy.

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