hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

May 16, 2013

Walk for Emily

By Don Toothaker
The Haverhill Gazette

---- — One way or another, there is always something to worry about while raising children.

As a parent, it is my greatest wish and concern that my children remain safe and healthy at all times. Parenting, even in the best of situations, is never easy, but it is difficult to grasp the anxiety parents experience while facing a dangerous disease that threatens one of their children. My friends, Scott and Missy Reid, live this anxiety every day with their youngest daughter Emily.

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic and deadly disease that attacks the lungs and digestive system. The results are labored breathing, multiple infections and poor growth. There was a time when the life expectancy of a child with CF was usually less than 10 years. However, today great strides in medical research have produced effective treatments that ensure those stricken with the disease the opportunity for a more robust and longer life. There is still no cure, but the prognosis is more hopeful than it once was. Children born with cystic fibrosis today live, on average, into their 30s — longer than a few decades ago, but still not nearly long enough.

Emily Reid is a beautiful little girl. She is a typical active 9-year-old who likes school, loves to play with her friends, enjoys her family, attends Brownies events, dances for a competition team and adores her pet dog. She wants to be a kindergarten teacher someday. Emily also has cystic fibrosis. Every day, a few times a day, she must take time while doing homework or watching TV to use her inhaler to fight back. The inhaler strengthens her lungs and keeps them clear of mucous, which would eventually strangle her breathing. Several times a year, she visits the hospital for tests and check ups. It is a constant battle.

Emily’s disease is not hers alone. Her family — Scott, Missy, AJ and Heather — share this with her. Together, they bravely and patiently take every action necessary to thwart the effects of this devastating disease. One way they contribute is by taking part in events organized by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. You too can take part by walking alongside Emily during the foundation’s largest fundraiser of the year, Great Strides, on May 18th in North Andover. Great Strides is a series of organized walks held to raise awareness and funds necessary to find a cure for cystic fibrosis.

If you know Emily, please consider joining her and thousands of other children and families who are affected by CF as they walk for a cure. It is not natural for us, as parents, to outlive our children. We can all help and we should. Lives depend on it.

For information about Great Strides and how you can help, follow this link www.cff.org/greatstrides.

Email suggestions of Haverhill people and places to photograph to Don Toothaker at toothakerphoto@gmail.com.