STROLO Star: Bree Labiak

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Julie Winn

“I've learned life is a lot like surfing. When you get caught in the impact zone, you need to get right back up, because you never know what's over the next wave... and if you have faith, anything is possible, anything at all.” - Bethany Hamilton

Recently the CFLF hosted one of our weekly STROLO Movie Nights (where we have a Netflix watch party and live chat) and we watched the movie, Bethany Hamilton: UnstoppableIncase you're not familiar with the movie, it’s a documentary that follows the rising tide of Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm as a teenager before making waves in pro surfing, and became a national champion.

Watching this film during STROLO Movie Night left me speechless and inspired beyond words. It’s no wonder why Bethany Hamilton is a role model and inspiration to fellow surfer, and CF Fighter, Bree Labiak.

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month and the CF Lifestyle Foundation would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to our new “STROLO Star” recognition program, where we spotlight bright stars in our CFLF community. This program aims to share more stories from members of our CFLF community, including Grant Recipients, Volunteers, CFLF Board Members, CFLF Blog Writers, STROLO U Instructors, CFLF Sponsors and More. 

We are kicking off this program for CF Awareness Month and introducing you to someone the CFLF has found very inspirational over the years, 16-year-old Pro Surfer, and SIX time CFLF Grant Recipient, Bree Labiak. Bree received her first Recreation Grant from the CFLF for surfing lessons in 2012. The CF Lifestyle Foundation has watched Bree grow over the years, becoming a stronger surfer over time. She recently fulfilled one of her life’s goals, becoming the first Pro Surfer with cystic fibrosis (CF).

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with CFLF Executive Director and Founder, Brian Callanan, and Bree, to talk about her surfing career, life with cystic fibrosis, and her dreams for the future.

Here is a glimpse of the interview we had with Bree.

Brian: Do you do any other sports, aside from surfing?

Bree: I like to skateboard, and dance, and workout, but mostly just surfing.

Julie: Those are all other fun activities too. Who inspires you to surf?

Bree: I'm basically just inspired by the people around me, and their amazing attitudes. Also Bethany Hamilton and her story, it’s really amazing, I could hear it every day and still be inspired. Her personality is so inspirational and I just aspire to be like that someday.

Julie: That’s awesome. We actually just featured Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable, as part of our STROLO Movie Night, which we do with the CFLF every Friday night featuring inspirational movies that focus on exercise and fitness. So I learned a lot about Bethany Hamilton just a couple weeks ago with that movie. That was pretty incredible. Her entire story is amazing.

Brian: Have you ever had a chance to meet her Bree?

Bree: No, but I have met Alana Blanchard, who is her best friend.

Julie: Yeah, she was in the movie.

Brian: I learned that Mauli Ola also does a surfing competition for breast cancer and Bethany competes in that as well, so who knows, maybe you’ll be able to make some connections and hook up with her.

Bree: Yes!

Brian: How would you say the Grants you’ve received through the CFLF have impacted your surfing dreams and your life with CF?

Bree: So basically ever since I received my first grant, I’ve been able to improve my talents in surfing, but not only that, learning more about it, and becoming closer to the ocean. I wasn’t really good at surfing when I first applied, but just the fact that you guys were there for me and accepted my grant was amazing. I was so happy, I’m pretty sure I cried. It’s helped me so much, and being able to come back, and be here, and say “I’m super thankful for you guys and everyone else around me,” it’s amazing.

Julie: How has exercise in general impacted your overall health?

Bree: Exercise has kept me out of the hospital. I’ve always been really healthy, a really healthy person with CF, but I’d really be lying if I didn’t credit that to the salt water, because the hypertonic saline, the salt water mist, helps out your lungs and opens them up, and that’s pretty amazing, so if I wasn’t a surfer, I’d probably be really sick right now.

Julie: What would you tell other people with CF who want to follow their dreams?

Bree: I would tell others to never give up. Their dreams may seem really far away, but they’re right in front of you, just waiting for you to fulfill them. I did that, and that’s pretty amazing, and I’m still doing it, so if I can do it, they can do it.

Take a look at the full interview, and get to know our first STROLO Star of the Month, Bree Labiak:



Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER-




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 and child and enjoys hiking, swimming, traveling and spending time in the great outdoors. 





***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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