UMD Student Creates Campus Walk for Cystic Fibrosis

University of Maryland student Tommy Brophy is in the process of organizing his second campus walk to raise money towards cystic fibrosis which will be held later this month.

Brophy is currently a sophomore on campus who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) when he was younger. He hasn’t met many students with the disease but knows people who have relatives and friends with Cystic Fibrosis.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder, which affects mainly the lungs but also other organs. The disease causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs making it difficult to breathe and making a person run out of breath faster than others.

Those with CF are also more susceptible to infection from the mucus buildup, and get sick easily. Those with CF have a life expectancy that lasts into the mid 40’s, much shorter than the average human.

Brophy takes organizing this walk to heart because his brother, Henry, 14, also has CF. He alone has raised $10,255 for the event.

“It means a lot because I have [CF] and so does my brother, so I see firsthand what some of the new treatments are and how they help,” said Brophy.

Brophy decided to start the campus walk in order to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and spread awareness about the disease. He felt it was important to educate those around him about CF.

“I wouldn’t say there’s one big thing except it hit me that I was managing the [Men’s] Lacrosse team and now had somewhat of a platform to try to educate more people about CF and raise money for it,” said Brophy.

By asking around, he was directed toward those who could help him create the walk on campus. He talked to the Men’s Lacrosse coaches because their team previously sponsored a cancer walk. Through the police department and Campus Recreation services Brophy was able to make a reservation for the walk.

Brophy then had to find a way to spread word of his walk and organize the event.

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“I created a Facebook event, talked to some of my friends about it and then we all promoted it by word of mouth,” said Brophy.

To share his walk with even more people on campus, Brophy decided to talk to a few sports teams and some sororities and fraternities. One student, junior kinesiology major Brooke Adler, helped the Maryland Field Hockey team create a group to walk.

“I learned about it from friends because it was big on Facebook,” said Adler. “They also sell t-shirts at the Landmark. Our team has raised $430 and we are really excited to participate in it.”

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Photo courtesy: Tommy Brophy

The walk is created under the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a national group that has many chapters in different areas, one being in Washington, D.C. The walk occurred for the first time last spring. There were between 50 and 60 people who attended and $19,630 was raised.

CF has no cure, and can only be cared for with specific antibiotics. The Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation raises money nationally to fund research in order to develop new medicines and find a cure for the disease.

The walk is designed for students on campus as well as families to join. There will numerous children’s activities, food and other festivities available to promote the cause and raise money.

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Kay Cunis, the Development Director in the Washington, D.C. Chapter for the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has worked with Brophy for this event and is impressed with his passion for boosting attention to CF.

“It has been incredibly inspiring to work with Tommy on organizing the walk this year. His drive to grow the walk is remarkable and he’s constantly brainstorming new, creative ideas both for the event and to maximize fundraising,” said Cunis. “He does an excellent job keeping up with the numerous logistics that go into planning a walk of this size and is constantly recruiting new teams to join him on walk day.”

This year over 100 people and 12 teams are already signed up for the event and it has raised $11,210. Their goal is to reach $26,000. The walk will held on April 17 at 1:30 p.m. For more information or an interest in participating check out the Facebook page or the University of Maryland Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation webpage.