Students Raise Support, Money for Important Cause
A group of students at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma spent seven hours walking in circles on April 15.
USAO’s Phi Lambda Chi fraternity hosted an awareness walk around the university’s oval. The walk was part of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides program, which helps raise money and awareness for cystic fibrosis (CF).
“It’s not one of the huge money-raising events,” said Jason Cocheran, the fraternity’s president and a business junior. “It’s to raise awareness within the Chickasha community … USAO focuses on a lot of things like this.”
The group took donations during the seven-hour event, coming out with $77, said Adeel Siddiqui, the fraternity’s sponsor.
The money goes to the CF Foundation, which helps improve the quality of life for individuals with cystic fibrosis and goes to medical research.
“We are dependent on private donations for our medical research,” said Celia Palmer, executive director of the Sooner Chapter of the foundation. “In the last 25 years, we have doubled the life expectancy for this disease because of volunteers like this who are willing to invest their time to raise money.”
The life expectancy for someone born with CF is older than 37 years, according to the Foundation’s Web site, www.cff.org. Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary lung and digestive disease where the body produces thick excess mucus that lines the lungs and digestive system causing decreased lung function and digestive issues. At this time, there is no cure.
Because only 30,000 Americans have the disease, it is considered an “orphan disease,” Palmer said.
“It’s vital that people understand our disease first,” she said. “And that often leads to support.”
The fraternity’s president-elect, Mason Dobbins, said the goal of Thursday’s event was to raise awareness for the disease.
“This isn’t a fundraising event, it’s more of an awareness event,” said Dobbins, who is a biology junior at USAO. “It shows involvement and caring for others. It’s an unselfish act … It’s something we don’t have to do, but chose to do.”
Most Cystic Fibrosis Foundation supporters know someone with the disease, but USAO’s fraternity chose to participate in the Great Strides initiative without any ties to the disease.
“You’re completely removed from the situation and you still care,” Siddiqui said.
Cocheran echoed Siddiqui’s statement.
“It shows people care,” Cocheran said. “I just thought I would do something good.”
Siddiqui said they were able to spread awareness as other students walked by and asked about the cause. Many of those students then decided to join in and walk a few laps.
“We got a bunch — I mean a lot — of students,” he said. “We made a difference.”
Jeremy Stapp, Phi Lambda Chi’s vice president, said the fraternity does a lot to help the community, including helping clean up the campus, working in the Resurrection House in downtown Chickasha and helping with a children’s hospital in Arkansas.
Stapp said he’s gotten positive response from friends and fellow students when he told them about the walk.
“It’s a really good cause,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you want to help a good cause?”
All-in-all, members of the USAO community walked 220 laps — or 92.4 miles — during the awareness walk.
The fraternity plans to make the CF awareness walk an annual event. Dobbins said they hope to start planning for next spring’s event soon in order to get more campus and community involvement.