TULALIP – When Keldan Pablo and Kaidynce Olsen got their picture taken, they had to be separated by their moms Kelsie and Cortney.
Not because they don’t get along. But because they have cystic fibrosis and can infect one another.
The four were among about 150 people who participated in the 11th Great Strides 3-mile walk Saturday around the Tulalip Amphitheatre.
Pablo co-founded the event to help find a cure for her son, who is 12 now and was diagnosed with CF at birth. He attends Grace Academy in Marysville.
Pablo said she wanted to have an event locally because it was too hard for families to travel to the one in Seattle, which was the closest option.
Linda Tolbert, community services chairwoman for the Tulalip Lions Club, a major sponsor, is Keldan’s grandma and has been involved from the start.
“Our role is getting more people involved so they’re more aware of CF,” she said, adding that most patients have to take dozens of drugs to survive.
Olsen, whose daughter is 10 and attends Kellogg-Marsh grade school in Marysville, said money raised helps fund CF research. She said she’s seen medical advances the past few years that are “encouraging, but have side effects.” Pablo said a new one is coming out early next year after the FDA approves it, that “is the closest thing so far to a cure.”
Tolbert said about eight teams participated this year in the walk, with Team Keldan leading the way with 104 members raising $5,000. One team member was Alix Rossman, who has worked for Tulalip in Human Resources with Pablo for about five years.
She said her co-worker is amazing. “I can’t imagine” doing all the work she does for a child with CF, Rossman said. “She’s positive and strong as can be.”
Despite CF, Keldan is “super active” in sports like basketball, their friend said.
But on the other hand, things like the flu “can impact him even more” than other children, Rossman said.
CF is a rare, complex genetic disease that causes an excessive buildup of thick mucus in the lungs and other organs. People with CF are prone to respiratory issues and infections due to bacteria buildup. More than 30,000 people nationwide have CF. Due to medical advancements, the average lifetime of someone with CF is 40, up from grade-school age in the 1950s.