10 Years At The Registration Table

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Julie Winn

During my college days I worked as a banquet server at one of the big hotel and conference centers in Burlington, Vermont. Our banquet team had so much fun working all those weddings and special events together, which is how I met and became friends with Brian Callanan. Brian was in graduate school at St. Michael’s College at the time and I was finishing school at the University of Vermont. We definitely kicked off a great friendship from those days. Our paths continued to cross when we both worked in social services helping families living in poverty. Brian was the Executive Director of a local non-profit, and I was a Case Manager with the local homeless organization. We had mutual colleagues and clients within that community, so I often communicated with Brian through all our work. During these years, Brian was also busy starting his own non-profit, The Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation.

I knew Brian had something called cystic fibrosis, that people called CF for short, but I honestly did not know much about it. That all changed one day when Brian asked me if I could help with the registration table at his new cycling event called Champ’s Challenge. Without hesitation, I obliged. I had to wake up earlier than usual that Sunday morning. I got to the parking lot that was just a couple blocks from Oakledge Park, near the shores of Lake Champlain, in Burlington, Vermont. I met Brian there and there were already a few bicyclists. I helped Brian set up the registration table and got a brief overview of how to check people in and and off I went. People started trickling in and before I knew it they were off and riding. Little did I know then, that I would be helping at the registration table of Champ’s Challenge consecutively for the next 10 years.

Ten years later and I know much more about cystic fibrosis then I ever thought I would. I have been volunteering with the CFLF since that first Champ’s Challenge in 2007, and then about five years ago I started working part-time with the CFLF, providing social media and communications support.  I work with both Brian and Erin (CFLF’s Program Coordinator) who both have CF. I have worked with board members who have CF or have a close connection to CF. I communicate with other CF Foundations and non profit organizations that are doing amazing things for the CF community.  I have been introduced to many companies helping to develop breakthrough medications. I’ve worked with people all over the country who are helping to spread awareness about cystic fibrosis.

The CFLF continues to help more and more people with cystic fibrosis live STROnger and LOnger by providing Recreation Grants so people can exercise and keep their lungs healthy and strong. I’m very happy to support that mission and the work of the CFLF. 

In the ten years that I have been involved with this organization I have helped draft email blasts and social media posts with news on medical developments, breakthrough treatments, milestones we’ve accomplished and all the various changes happening in the CF community. I’ve helped fundraise for the CFLF and I’ve watched those funds directly impact people. I’ve seen so many people engaged in physical exercise that helps keep their lungs and their minds strong. I’ve seen people with CF live longer than ever before. I have seen so many positive things happen. And at the same time, I have seen how ugly CF can be. How it can alter someone’s life and the lives of loved ones. I have seen how unforgiving CF can be and how we need to keep fighting. I have seen why the work at the CFLF is so important. I have seen how fundraising events, like Champ’s Challenge, truly make a difference in the lives of so many with CF, and why it’s important to attend, donate, or volunteer.

This year marks our 11th Champ’s Challenge for Cystic Fibrosis. It would have been 12, but the organization took last year off, while re-focusing and building the team. The Foundation recently grew by welcoming Pete Tucker, CFLF’s new Executive Vice President.

This year’s Champ’s Challenge offers a certified and timed 5K Run and Walk on a beautiful course at the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vermont. There will also be a 8 mile  and 40 mile bike ride. After the ride and run, there will be a BBQ and raffle drawing. Some of the raffle prizes include a night stay at the Basin Harbor, and a night stay in Belgrade Lakes, Maine. More raffle prizes will be announced soon!

Our 10th Champ’s Challenge was our most successful fundraiser to date, but honestly, I think THIS year will top it!  2018 is the comeback year of Champ’s Challenge and I couldn’t be more pumped!  You can find me there on July 15th behind the registration table.



Julie Winn is a long time volunteer turned contractor for the CFLF, providing social media and marketing support to the organization. She has attended many of CFLF Fundraising events over the years, and is also active with other non-profit organizations in Vermont. She lives in South Burlington with her spouse, child, and dog and enjoys hiking, swimming, traveling and spending time in the great outdoors. 




                                                                                        Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER- 



***Views expressed in the CFLF Blog are those of the bloggers themselves and not necessarily of the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation*** 

***Please speak with your physician before making any changes to your CF management***


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