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‘Great Strides’ in battle against cystic fibrosis

TULALIP — Marysville mom Brandi Krug still gets a tear in her eye when talks about how the Tulalip Great Strides fundraising walk came to be.

Last year, she was sitting with her daughter, Brenna, when the 6-year-old made her mother make a promise.

“She wanted me to do everything I could to help cure cystic fibrosis,” Krug said. “She was afraid she was going to run out of time. As a mother, I couldn’t say no.”

Now in its second consecutive year, the fundraiser that benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has hit its stride.

Approximately 170 people took part in 3-mile walk on Saturday, July 17, raising more than $20,000 for the organization, Krug said.

The team-based trek began at the Tulalip Amphitheatre, where attendees registered for the walk. About 15 teams, ranging from groups of a few individuals to more than a dozen people, sipped on coffee, listened to music and purchased raffle tickets while they waited for the event to begin.

“Wishful Walkers” team captain Lisa Jones, along with her boyfriend, Tony Wolford, both originally from Marysville but now live in Arlington, were among the groups raising money for the genetic disease, which causes mucus buildup in the sufferer’s lungs and weakens their immune system.

Their team consisted of 13 people — dads, cousins, husbands and sisters of Jones.

“It’s exciting — you kind of get to meet the people that you’re walking for,” said Jones, who went to high school with Krug. “I can tell it’s going to grow and get bigger each year.”

Terri Power, a health teacher at Quil Ceda Elementary School in Marysville, said she wanted to participate in the fundraiser for a girl who has the disease that attends the school.

“I walk for her,” Power said. “With my role working with the school, I do my best to try to support them. (Cystic fibrosis) is actually more common than you think.”

Shannon Heichel, a friend of Power’s, agreed.

“We’ve been on a few walks and it’s a great way for places like this to make money,” Heichel said.

The walk began just after 10 a.m. Krug greeted participants with a short introduction to Great Strides — Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s fundraisers, which take place in more than 10 Washington cities each year.

Krug named each of the 15 teams and thanked the sponsors and community members who volunteered their time to make the event happen.

“You have all endeared so much already this year,” Krug said. “Every single one of your efforts are noticed. Without all of you this would not be possible.”

Walkers then gathered on the south side of the amphitheater and made their way around the Seattle Premium Outlets and the Tulalip Resort Casino. Some pushed strollers. Others donned matching custom-made T-shirts.

Registration for the walk was free, but team that pre-registered could set up individual websites and solicit donations for the walk online from their friends and family.

The event was organized by Krug and fellow Marysville resident Kelsie Dry, whose 3-year-old son, Keldan, also has cystic fibrosis.

Allison Thrasher, senior director of special events for the foundation, helped secure the Tulalip Amphitheatre last year as the event venue.

“That was the biggest hurdle,” Krug said. “After that, it all fell into place.”

In 2009 — the first year of the event — the walk raised about $8,500 for research into the disease and had about 75 participants.

Brenna’s story became the subject of a high-profile national debate in 2009, when U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., cited the Marysville girl as one of the millions of uninsured, low-income children whose costs were not covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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