Champ’s Challenge bike ride to raise funds for cystic fibrosis

VERGENNES — What inspires someone to ride? A beautiful day? Gorgeous scenery? A fun group of friends? What about all that, while directly helping the quality of life for someone with a life threatening disease?
Come join the 11th Annual Champ’s Challenge for Cystic Fibrosis at the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes on Sunday, July 15. The event offers beautifully scenic 40-mile and an 8-mile cycling options, as well as a 5K run/walk through the private Basin Harbor Club property. Participants will be treated to a lakeside BBQ lunch reception provided by the Basin Harbor Club with raffle and give-away drawings. All proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation (CFLF) providing recreation grants that provide financial assistance to patients nationally to directly fund exercise-based activities.
After cycling over 2,000 miles from Canada to Key West to raise awareness and funds to help others fighting the disease, Brian Callanan, also an adult with cystic fibrosis (CF), founded the organization. While this feat was an extreme accomplishment, the challenge was extraordinary in demonstrating to the CF population that physical limits once placed upon patients were being shattered. 
Champ’s Challenge is organized by a committee of dedicated volunteers, along with the CFLF Director Callanan, and Program Coordinator, Erin Evans, also an adult with the genetic lung disease. Evans describes the event as “the largest single source of grassroots fundraising for CFLF each year. It is a tremendous inspiration to witness the excitement and passion of the volunteers and cyclists at this event each year.”
Affecting more than 30,000 people in the United States, cystic fibrosis is known primarily for the thick and sticky mucus that clogs airways and blocks the secretion of pancreatic enzymes required for digestion and nutritional absorption. In short, eating and breathing are significantly compromised for people with the disease, making survival nothing short of a challenge.
Dr. Thomas Lahiri, CF Center Director at the University of Vermont Medical Center says, “This is an incredibly well organized event, supporting a cause that has direct impact on the lives of patients fighting this disease every day of their lives.”
Callanan gives credit to exercise for his excellent health at the age of 42. “Whether cycling the East Coast, hiking and snowboarding at more than 12,000 feet, or distance swimming in the salt-water ocean, I thrive on the benefits of increased airway clearance, improved appetite, elevated energy and overall sense of self-esteem. Maintaining normal lung function at my age is virtually unheard of. I want to inspire others with CF to strive for a life that is full and rich, with a mindset that does not subscribe to limitation.” 
Evans, age 34, also believes in the power of active lifestyle in managing her CF. As a Northfield Varsity athlete in soccer, basketball and softball during high school, she accomplished her first century (100 miles) bike ride in 2008. As part of her ongoing commitment to exercise in changing the face of CF, she regularly cycles, runs, plays softball, racquetball and practices yoga.
This year’s Champs Challenge promises to be a fun time for all, whether riding, walking, or running along Lake Champlain, followed by a great lunch and raffle drawing at the water,s edge of the Basin Harbor Resort.
Sign up now and start fundraising at ChampsChallenge.org.

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