Three Day Stampede charges into Bristol
BRISTOL — This year marks the 29th annual Three Day Stampede Toward the Cure for Cystic Fibrosis.
Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic disease that affects the lungs and/or digestive system of more than 30,000 people in the United States alone.
The Three Day Stampede was founded in 1989 when David and Bonita Bedard’s granddaughter Kayla was born with Cystic Fibrosis.
Since then the Stampede has raised more than $2 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, making it the largest grassroots fundraiser in the country, according to organizers.
How does a small town like Bristol with just under 4,000 people raise $128,769 in just three days?
The CF Foundation has tried to replicate the Stampede many times but it’s in awe of the community that hosts the event.
Local companies provide cash sponsorships and product donations, community members donate their own gently used treasures and hundreds of volunteers donate their time to help this event happen.
Those volunteers are truly the heart of the Stampede.
Many of them began helping at a young age (there is no age limit) and have grown up contributing to this annual event.
And family, of course, were born into it.
“My family has helped raise over $2 million to help find the cure for CF and that’s really, really close to my heart,” said Kayla’s cousin Bailey Sherwin, 21, who has been volunteering since birth.
Bailey’s sister, Carley, 19, also takes on many responsibilities — before, during and after the Stampede.
The sisters both say it is their favorite week of the year.
“All of my favorite people are here, working together toward the same goal, and the energy is incredible,” said Carley. “We have grown up volunteering and it has truly helped shape who we are as people.”
They, along with many other volunteers, can be found at Bristol Recreation Club fields from the beginning of the event until the end.
They don’t complain — they just do.
“We have volunteers who schedule their vacations so that they can volunteer at Stampede, always with a smile on their faces and love in their hearts,” said Bonita Bedard. “It is truly a humbling experience to come together to move mountains.”
By “mountains” Bedard means the half-dozen or more tractor-trailers full of tents, tables, signs and donations.
It truly takes a village.
The Stampede runs this Friday and Saturday from 8 to 8, and on Sunday from 8 to 4.
For more information, or to volunteer, visit www.threedaystampede.org.
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