"Many know Frank as one of the world's greatest sports journalists. We know him as a father who turned tragic loss into the powerful inspiration for working to cure a disease," said Preston W. Campbell, III, M.D., president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "As a writer, a loving father, and an inspiring volunteer leader, he has given so much of himself to the CF community, and we are eternally grateful."
Deford, whose daughter lost her battle with cystic fibrosis at age 8, recorded the impact of her life in his book, "Alex: the Life of a Child," in 1983, which was made into a TV movie and raised awareness of the disease among millions of readers and viewers around the world. To honor Alex’s memory, Deford initiated the Alex Award, given each year by the Foundation to a person with CF who is a role model to others with the disease.
Deford served as chair of the Foundation's Board of Trustees during a time of pivotal advances in our understanding of cystic fibrosis, including the 1989 discovery of the CF gene. Earlier this year, he received the Foundation's Dream Big Award, which recognizes individuals who have made a monumental difference in the fight against CF.
Deford was a nationally recognized contributing writer at Sports Illustrated, a longtime commentator on NPR's "Morning Edition," and a correspondent for HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." In 2013, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama.
"It would be difficult to overstate the mark that Frank has left on this Foundation and our community," said Cam McLoud, chair of the CF Foundation's Board. “Because of his more than four decades of dedicated commitment to the Foundation's mission, people with CF are living longer and healthier lives. We will miss his tireless service, his extraordinary wisdom, and his enduring friendship, but we will proudly continue in his spirit of determination to end this disease."