Bristol’s Three-Day Stampede nets $120,000 for cystic fibrosis

BRISTOL — The 2015 edition of Bristol’s Three-Day Stampede Toward the Cure for Cystic Fibrosis raised more than $120,000.
Attendees of the event this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday enjoyed good weather, fun, a lot of nifty bargains and activities, as well as the satisfaction of knowing their donations and purchases will help fund research into what is a complex, chronic and often deadly disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. CF touches several Addison County residents, and roughly 70,000 people worldwide.
“Overall, it was an incredibly amazing weekend,” said Bonita Bedard, who with her husband, David, and other volunteers have co-organized the annual fundraiser for the past 25 years. “This community should be so proud if itself.”
This year’s $120,000 tally is $10,000 less than what was raised last year, but Bedard placed that figure into context. For example, she noted last year’s total benefitted from an extremely generous, one-time contribution from 104-year-old Bill James, a local celebrity in Bristol. The 2014 tally also included revenues from a softball tournament held in June of that year. Bedard added that the Heffernan family of Bristol has understandably channeled much of its fundraising efforts this year into a fund for Kate Heffernan, a cystic fibrosis patient who is in line for a double-lung transplant. The Lungs For Kate fund has, as of this week, accrued to more than $78,000, thanks to contributions from throughout the state. The money will pay for lodging and special medications that Kate will require following the transplant.
The Stampede this year kicked off on Friday, July 24, and concluded on Sunday, July 26. It included a giant lawn sale, used book sale, craft and flea market, food bunk, bake sale, silent auction, 5K run, walkathon and motorcycle ride.
While walkathon revenues were down, Bedard was very pleased with the performance of the lawn sale (which yielded $53,751) and the silent auction, which generated $25,100. Bedard expressed particular gratitude to G. Stone Motors of Middlebury, which for the 18th year donated a car to the auction. That vehicle netted a $5,200 top bid.
Bedard also noted an individual contribution of $5,000 toward the final tally.
All of the money collected will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The Stampede has now raised a grand total of $1,671,025 for the foundation.
After 25 years, volunteers have gotten the Stampede setup and operation down to a science. And each year, organizers are able to rotate in some new, young helpers who invariably stick with the effort for years and in the process become engrained with an ethos of giving. And the volunteering isn’t just confined to the three-day event; organizers receive and store donations of yard sale and silent auction items beginning in late May.
“The volunteer team is an amazing group of people,” said Bedard, who placed the current number of helpers at “at least 100.”
Through the years, organizers have largely stuck with the familiar slate of Stampede offerings that have proven successful. And the Bedards are hoping for equal success in an upcoming medical treatment for their granddaughter Kayla, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis following her birth almost 25 years ago. Kayla has been deemed eligible to take a new drug called Orkambi, which earlier this month was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat CF. Though not a cure, Orkambi has, through testing, proved effective in increasing lung function in CF patients. The drug can also help patients process sodium more effectively within their bodies, Bedard noted.
“It’s a huge breakthrough,” Bedard said of the drug.
For more information about the Stampede, visit threedaystampede.org.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected]. Disclosure: Kate Heffernan is John Flowers’ niece.

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