New Eyes

Posted by: 
Lara Govendo

Awaken to the rhythmic tune of my alarm. Eyes still closed. I hear the birds chirping outside. 5am. Stretch my arms over my head. Take a slow, deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Ahhhhh. Rinse. Repeat. Excitement washes over me and I feel a smile spread across my face…

It’s no ordinary day. That’s no ordinary moment. Nothing about the life I lead is ordinary…

The morning of an event that you’ve worked all year for as a team is here. I replay the movie reel in my head of the past few years that I have volunteered for Champ’s Challenge. Different seasons of my life, different experiences. I didn’t always wake up with the luxury of taking a slow, deep breath – in fact, my first event I had to get up 1.5 hours prior to traveling an hour to Basin Harbor. My routine wasn’t as simple…easy…care-free. At least breathing wise.

For 30+ years my mornings were filled with breathing treatments – nebulizers, airway clearance devices, and coughing to clear mucous out of my lungs so that I could breathe. My first event, I was on home iv antibiotics and oxygen. Life ran at a slower pace. It was a rush to complete my breathing routine before leaving which required extra time tacked onto the morning and less rem sleep.

The following year, my health declined quickly. No matter how hard I tried, my lungs were tired. I ran with six liters of oxygen, but it wasn’t enough to save my cystic fibrosis lungs. By august 2017, I received a double lung transplant. My life isn’t without struggle on this side, but it is the most incredible gift to be able to breathe strong in a brand new way. Devoid of congestion, something that has never happened in my whole life. The necessity of supplemental oxygen has vanished. My new lungs are beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

Through my life experiences and the hand I’ve been dealt, it has afforded me the opportunity to connect with amazing individuals. Given the kindest hearts on the planet, I am truly honored to work beside some of the most inspiring people that I know. I joined the CFLF team officially in the fall when Brian hired me to network with Vermont connections. I was thrilled to do something I do best – talk to people! And be able to work with a team that has the same goal of helping those with CF live stronger, longer lives.

The event is bursting with positive energy buzzing throughout the blue skies and sunshine. The attendees are stoked to participate and support such a worthy cause. To witness others who are so willing to give generously and joyfully is magical in and of itself. Some have a connection to CF through friends or family. Others have read the mission behind our organization and want to support us because they believe in what we do. Individuals from all walks of life attend and come together in a beautiful way.

Our staff and volunteers run around the whole day working hard to provide the best experience for all who come out for the event. Each individual has a designated job, but we all work together as a team to fill in where more is needed. It flows smoothly… because our leaders are strong in their ability to plan, critically think, and implement the blueprint we’ve created together. It is a talented skill that I have the privilege of learning from.

There are several pieces of the puzzle that must be put together in order for the entire day to occur. That’s the beauty of working with a team. We can see how each part must fit into place for the event to be whole. This is how organizations survive. The CFLF thrives, however, because there is a whole lot of heart going on behind our actions. It is the spirit of the event that carries us through the year and reminds us of why we are doing what we’re doing.

Without the vision Brian has and understanding as a fellow CFer, this organization and event wouldn’t be as successful. There’s a difference between those with empathy and those that have been in your shoes. When someone knows exactly what you are going through because they’ve been there, they increase their credibility and are more inclined to reach others on a deeper level. With Erin on board, they are a power house!

There are so many different treatment options, ways to keep your lungs clearish, and your physical self as healthy as possible. The challenge with chronic illness is that the majority of the battle is the mental/emotional aspect of this disease. Seldom are these matters addressed in a therapeutic manner. Which is what makes the CFLF stand out significantly.

It’s common knowledge in the CF world that the mental/emotional health of a person is directly correlated to his or her physical health. It’s always a mental game. If your mental health is strong, then your physical health is a sea-breeze. Which is where we come in…

Providing CFers with the opportunity to buy exercise equipment for home, take yoga classes, or partake in a recreational activity that they wouldn’t have the opportunity for otherwise is one of the greatest gifts that a person with CF can receive. It gives them a chance to participate in life in a different way, outside of the constraints that CF often holds. To know that someone is breathing stronger because of those who support them is an empowering way to give back. It shows how bright one’s life with CF can be the encouragement of others.

It has been an honor to meet with likeminded individuals and organizations in the area these past several months. Speaking with others who are so willing to help us reach our goal because of their gracious hearts and servant spirits has been humbling. I am in awe at how humanity always shines through in a big way when we work together for the betterment of others. What a gift!

Champ’s Challenge is an event like no other. All encompassing with your choice of biking or running, raffles sourced from local products/adventures/getaways, and a delicious lunch right on the lake to celebrate together afterwards. The setting is picturesque with its lush green grass, shimmering lake, and immersion in nature. We are blessed to have the opportunity to share this hidden gem of Vermont for our big day! And the chance to enjoy the space after by swimming, exploring, or napping in the sun ;-)

We look forward to rocking Champ’s Challenge together THIS Sunday! See you there :-)


Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER-




Lara is 32 years young and resides in Vermont. She has Cystic Fibrosis and received a double lung transplant in August 2017. A beacon of light for the existence of miracles; Lara enjoys adventures, nature, and belly laughs with her loves. She believes Jesus walks and pants are the devil. Passionate about spreading encouragement, she always lends an ear to those in need.
Follow Lara’s blog on her website: or connect with her on Facebook & Instagram: Lungs4Lovey.







***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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