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Laura Zowney and Ann Black: Marketing Manager and Administrative Coordinator at Take a Breather Foundation

Take A Breather Foundation is on a mission to educate the public about cystic fibrosis and provide support to children and adults who are battling the disease. Thousands of individuals have “taken a breather” from their condition by participating in fun activities like trips, sporting events, and more. Take A Breather Foundation was founded in 2012 by Matt McClosky, who unfortunately lost his battle with CF earlier this month. Laura and Ann look forward to fulfilling Matt’s incredible vision to help individuals with CF find moments of joy. Learn more about their inspiring work here



Can you tell me about how cystic fibrosis affects the lives of those who have it? 


Living with cystic fibrosis (CF) entails facing a relentless daily struggle that affects not only the  individual with the condition but also their entire support system. CF demands significant time  and effort to manage. Symptoms, such as persistent coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness  

due to thick mucus buildup in the airways, are common among CF patients. CF impacts the  respiratory system; it also disrupts digestion, leading to issues such as pancreatic insufficiency  and malabsorption. This results in a need for meticulous attention to diet and enzyme  replacement therapy to ensure proper nutrient absorption and weight maintenance. The treatment regimen for CF is multifaceted and demanding, requiring strict adherence to various therapies and medications. Failure to adhere to this regimen can have serious  consequences on the health of the patient, making consistency and discipline essential. 


Hospitalizations are often necessary due to the risk of severe lung infections, further disrupting  daily life and causing emotional strain on both individuals with CF and their loved ones. The  uncertainty and fear surrounding exacerbations can take a toll on mental well-being, requiring a strong support network to navigate through the challenges. Despite the hardships, there are sources of hope. Advances in medical research and treatment  options continue to improve outcomes for individuals with CF, offering the promise of a better  quality of life and the eventual possibility of a cure.  


What kinds of wishes do you grant for those with cystic fibrosis? 


We've been fortunate to grant a variety of wishes that cater to the unique interests and dreams  of children and adults with cystic fibrosis. From enchanting adventures to memorable  destinations like Disney World, a Bermuda cruise, New York City, and San Diego, we've  provided opportunities for breather recipients and their families to create cherished memories  and experience a respite from the daily burdens of CF. In addition to exciting travel experiences, we've had the privilege of offering access to sports  events, such as VIP seating at the Philadelphia Phillies and Flyers game. These outings not  only bring excitement and entertainment, but also foster a sense of camaraderie and a shared  passion for a sport enthusiast. 


Furthermore, we understand the importance of staying connected, especially during challenging times. That's why we've gifted numerous iPads and computers to breather recipients, providing them with essential tools for communication, learning, and entertainment. These technological  resources not only can enhance their quality of life but also serve as valuable companions  during hospital stays. At the heart of our mission is the belief that every wish granted brings a ray of hope and  happiness to individuals and families affected by cystic fibrosis.  


Outside of wishes, what other work do you do?


Take A Breather Foundation is deeply committed to raising awareness and supporting the cystic fibrosis (CF) community through a range of impactful initiatives. Our events serve as powerful  platforms to educate, engage, and advocate for those affected by CF. Our flagship event, the Narberth CF Run and Walk, is a longstanding tradition celebrating its  29th year. This event is a five-mile run or two-mile walk through the quaint streets of Narberth,  PA. Participants come together to show their solidarity and support for individuals living with CF. 


Our annual gala is another cornerstone of our awareness efforts, bringing together supporters,  donors, and community members for an evening of celebration and fundraising. Through  inspiring speeches and personal stories, we aim to shine a spotlight on the impact of CF and the importance of continuing our mission. Beyond our signature events, one of the highlights of our year is spreading holiday cheer by  providing Christmas gifts to children at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia  every December. This heartwarming tradition brings joy and comfort to young patients and their  families during a challenging time, reminding them that they are not alone in their fight against CF. 


What is the best part of your job? 


The most rewarding aspect of my role is undoubtedly the opportunity to provide much-needed  respite for cystic fibrosis patients and their families. Being able to present a breather and  witnessing the sheer happiness and relief it brings is incredibly gratifying. Seeing the smiles light  up their faces and knowing that, even briefly, they can escape the relentless demands of CF is  heartwarming. It's these moments of joy and connection that remind me of the profound impact  we can have on the lives of others, and it fuels my passion for our mission every day. 

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