Steve Richards who has cystic fibrosis speaks at the Delta Tau Delta house Tuesday afternoon about setting awareness for the disease. The Delta Tau Delta fraternity is hosting Cystic FIbrosis Foundation Run for Breath 5K this Saturday to raise money within the community. -Susan Broadbridge
A press conference for the cystic fibrosis annual event at The University of Southern Mississippi took place Tuesday. Delta Tau Delta Fraternity has spearheaded the event for the past 30 years and supported the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The Cystic Fibrosis Run for Breath 5K Run/Walk will start at 9 a.m. Saturday in front of the Payne Center. On-site registration and check-in will begin at 7:30 a.m. The top two contestants in each age category as well as overall male and female winners will be awarded prizes. T-shirts will be provided to
Former NFL Carolina Panthers football player Kris Mangum is the 2015 grand marshal for the event. Mangum played at the University of Mississippi before being drafted into the NFL in 1997. He played with the Panthers for 10 years before leading the team to the Super Bowl in 2004.
“The real celebrities are the ones who suffer from CF,” Mangum said. “I’m just a supporter. We hope to raise a large amount to help them and others.”
Every year, Delta Tau Delta chooses a sorority to participate in the event. This year, Chi Omega sorority will participate with the fraternity in the fundraising efforts. Gonsoulin said the sorority members not only help with the 5K event, but they also take on writing letters to the friends and family and ask them to consider donating to the cause.
According to the foundation’s website, cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the U.S, which is about 70,000 worldwide. Cystic fibrosis is caused by a defective gene and its protein product causes the body to make a thick mucus that congests the lung and leads to life-threatening lung infections.
Though cystic fibrosis may still be an unknown chronic disease to some, Delta Tau Delta at Southern Miss made it part of its philanthropy in 1985. Steven Richards, the fraternity’s first president, had cystic fibrosis. After the other members had learned of Richards’ case, the chapter began learning about CF.
According to the foundation’s website, innovative research and comprehensive care have helped people with CF to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
“The medicines that have been created over the years help us live longer,” Richards said. “Events like this have made it possible for medicines to be administered so people with CF can go to work, school, home and not in the hospital. I am the sixth oldest in the state with CF and am doing better than a lot of folks thanks to this generation.”
“No one knew what this disease was about,” said Sidney Gonsoulin, associate vice president for student affairs and chapter adviser for Delta Tau Delta.
“One of the things that the Delts took on as a mission was (to) provide information to the community on what this disease was all about and how difficult it is.”
Gonsoulin said the Delta Tau Delta chapter at USM raised over $400,000 since 1985 and continue to share the story throughout the region.
“What we’re trying to do here is find a cure for CF,” Delta Tau Delta President Ryan Lehman said. “I thank all of the people who made this come together and pushing us forward to help ultimately find a cure.”