Sisters Walk for a cure for Cystic Fibrosis

By Andrew Wernette

Kelley and Erin Foley are sisters with at least two things in common: both attend Oakland University, and both are fighting for a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF).

Kelley, 21, is a senior majoring in art history. Her sister Erin, 20, is a junior studying psychology. Both are from Troy.

The Foley sisters are looking forward to April, when the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will put on a walk at the Detroit Zoo. 

Entrants raise money through donations, which goes to funding research toward a cure for CF.

It will be the third CF walk that the sisters have attended.

“It’s kind of amazing,” Kelley said of the annual walk. “Last year was probably the most emotional.”


What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the respiratory and digestive systems of the body and can be life-threatening. 

It has its own tragic history within the Foley family.


A family affected

Last Friday, Jan. 31, marked the 19th anniversary of the sisters’ father John Foley’s death due to complications from CF. Both sisters were very young when he died.

They also had two aunts who succumbed to the disease at an early age.

Kelley and Erin themselves are safe from the disease for genetic reasons. However, they still carry the gene that could potentially cause trouble down the road.

“It’s possible that our children will have it,” Kelley said. 

This scares them.


Going the distance

Kelley first learned of the walk when she started attending OU. The sisters decided to participate in 2012, with the modest goal of raising $200 for their team. This was easily met through the contributions of family and friends, so they decided to aim for more the next time. In 2013 they each set a personal goal of $500, which they achieved.

The next walk is on April 27, the day after Kelley’s graduation ceremony from OU. This year, each sister has set a personal goal of raising $1000 for their team. They are actively looking for donors.

Aside from raising money, though, they enjoy being in touch with the larger CF community.

“People bring their entire families out,” Erin said. “It’s a really nice atmosphere.”

Nowadays, the Foley sisters do not have many memories of their father when he was alive. Instead, he continues to survive through family stories and photographs.

“He had a cool mustache,” Erin said with a grin.

To learn more about the Foleys’ cause or to contribute to their goal this year, visit their donation page at www.fightcf.