May is Cystic Fibrosis (CF) month. A drive through Watson Lake will give you an idea of just how important this month is to our town. Numerous businesses join in “painting the town purple” by decorating windows and doors in purple, the official CF colour. You may also see purple vehicles and one distinctly purple fire hydrant.

The highlight of CF month in Watson Lake is the fifth annual Cystic Fibrosis Walk. You can sponsor a walker, participate in the walk, purchase a T-shirt, or do all three.

The 2017 cystic fibrosis T-shirts are available for $15 at Super A Foods before the walk, or for $20 at Wye Lake Park just before the walk starts.

This year’s walk is scheduled for Saturday, May 27, 2017. Start time is 10 a.m. at Wye Lake Park and the walk is 3.5 km long. Everyone is welcome.

This well-attended event brings out between 150 to 200 supporters each year.

In addition to the walk, there are many opportunities throughout the year to contribute to this amazing cause.

Watson Lake generosity was in full force when an anonymous customer purchased the entire first shipment of stuffed Home Hardware Helpful Hounds. Owners of Watson Lake Home Hardware, Susan and Barry Drury, are contributing $5 from the sale of each Handy and Mandy Hound in support of Cystic Fibrosis. These helpful hounds are restocked and are again available for purchase.

The Watson Lake Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation holds fundraising events throughout the year. These include bartending for many of the community events and cooking for the Old Timer’s Hockey Tournament Dinner.

“We raise more money per capita than anywhere else in Western Canada,” Erin Labonte proudly states. She is the director of Cystic Fibrosis Canada: Yukon Chapter. “We have raised over $100,000 in the past five years with over $50,000 of that coming from Watson Lake.”

According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, the disease is the most common fatal genetic disease, “Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults.”

The severity of cystic fibrosis symptoms differs from person to person

It is estimated, on average, one in every 3,600 children born will have CF. In the Yukon, at the moment, there are seven known people living with CF out of a population of 37,500; two CF patients have families from Watson Lake.

CF can wreak havoc on the digestive system, and consists of ongoing infection in the lungs. This infection eventually leads to loss of lung function and death. There is no cure.

Over the years various new treatments have extended the life expectancy of CF patients. Life expectancy in 1990 was 37 years old, whereas now, about half the CF population is living until 50 years old. This is a marked improvement and gives hope to families dealing with this devastating disease.

Money collected for the CF Foundation continues to fund research into new treatments and hopefully, eventually, a cure.

For more information on cystic fibrosis and ways you can volunteer, advocate or donate, check out the Cystic Fibrosis Canada website at www.CysticFibrosis.ca. Everyone is welcome.

In addition to the walk, there are many opportunities throughout the year to contribute to this amazing cause.