Bristol readies for busy 'stampede' on July 29-31

BRISTOL — When Kayla Flint of Bristol was born in 1989 with cystic fibrosis — a widespread genetic disease that causes thick mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tract — her grandparents David and Bonita Bedard were unwilling to sit idle.

Driven by their granddaughter’s disposition, they created what would one day become a countywide staple for fund-raising — the Three Day Stampede Toward the Cure for Cystic Fibrosis, which over more than two decades has garnered more than $1 million for research into CF. This year’s Stampede is slated for next Friday through Sunday, July 29-31, at the Bristol Recreation Field.

“We weren’t satisfied with waiting around. We wanted to do something,” said Bonita Bedard, co-owner of Vermont HoneyLights on Bristol’s Main Street. “At that time, the life expectancy for someone with cystic fibrosis was young adulthood and we didn’t like that. It didn’t make us happy. So we wanted to raise money for research to look for future solutions.”

In 1990 she and David held a walkathon that generated $2,800 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation — the leading donor-supported nonprofit dedicated to finding a cure and new controls for the disease. Then, after David’s father passed away in 1991, he and his four brothers decided to hold a three-day yard sale in conjunction with the walkathon, selling their father’s remaining belongings to raise money for CF.

That weekend something unexpected happened — members of the community made the cause their own.

As the items at the sale began to dwindle, the community replenished them.

“So many people stopped by (that first year) and as soon as they knew where the money was going to go, they came back with more stuff to donate to the lawn sale,” said Bedard. “It was right from that moment the community’s event.”

Bristol’s Three Day Stampede was thus born. In its 21-year existence, Bedard said the event has generated more than $1.1 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and has continually held a special place on summer calendars across the county.

This year’s Stampede will kick off on the recreation field on Friday at 8 a.m. with a massive 20-tent lawn sale, which will run until 8 p.m., and again on Saturday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and on Sunday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. There will also be a silent auction, with bids closing at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

The Red Knights International Firefighters Motorcycle Club will host a motorcycle ride on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.

The chicken barbecue will fire up from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday.

ZUMBATHON

Jenn Buker has organized a “Zumbathon” for Saturday from 6-8 p.m. at the recreation field. She’s inviting anyone from beginners to advanced Zumba Fitness dancers to take part in this popular aerobic dance exercise.

“The only requirement is that you come with an open mind and prepared to have fun,” Buker said. “And you should wear supportive footwear, bring a small towel (you will sweat) and water to hydrate.”

Buker said the suggested donation is $20, “But don’t let the cost stop you from coming,” she said. “Just give what you can, a little more or a little less is OK with us.”

For more information on the Zumbathon contact Jenn at 802-349-6292 or [email protected].

Haven’t got enough of a workout?  A five-kilometer run will start at 8 a.m. on Sunday and a walkathon will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday with registration closing at 10:30 a.m. For runners and walkers looking to partake in these events and make a pledge to the foundation, information is available on the website at www.threedaystampede.org.

In addition to these central festivities, the stampede will also hold a used book sale, a flea market, and a raffle as well as host a wide range of food and craft vendors.

All net proceeds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Bedards hope that this year’s stampede can raise more than last year’s $97,000.

Individuals looking to donate goods to the lawn sale can drop them off at Bristol Works — previously the Autumn Harp building — between 4:30-6 p.m. on Saturday, July 23. The final drop off time will be from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27, at the recreation field.

“This is an amazing community that we live in and the stampede is really a community event,” said Bedard. “There’s a huge amount of support and care for it … It’s always upbeat and wonderful.”

As for Kayla, she works two full-time jobs and attends classes at the community college.

“Her health is really good,” said her aunt Shawna Sherwin. “We’re very lucky … the median age goes up every year (for those with cystic fibrosis) … they can’t cure the mutation, but they can treat and cure the symptoms.”

Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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