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“Great Strides” to save kids, students, adults

14 June 2014 By Daryllee Hale, Associate Arts and Life Editor No Comments

When 2013 alum Katelin McMullin turned 25 years old in June of last year, she wanted something specific for her birthday.

But it wasn’t a trip to the beach and it wasn’t the newest iPad.

McMullin wanted to raise $25,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an organization dedicated to researching a cure for the progressive disease, which affected McMullin since birth. She died from complications due to the disease last November.

“Katelin got to 25 years because she was able to take advantage of some of the things that were out there because of money, because of the research that’s done,” Melinda McMullin, Katelin’s mother, said.

And in hopes of improving the lives of others with cystic fibrosis, Katelin McMullin’s family and friends have decided to continue working toward her goal of raising $25,000.

“The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation doesn’t get any funding,” Melinda McMullin said. “Fundraising is up to people like us, parents, family members, friends, who have seen the devastation of this disease.”

Cystic fibrosis affects about 30,000 people nationwide. It is a recessive gene carried by one in 30 Caucasians and affects many organs in the body due to the production of thick mucus that clogs the lungs and obstructs the pancreas.

“There’s no cure for it, but research and the development of new drugs and treatments has extended the life of people who have [cystic fibrosis],” Melinda McMullin said. “10 years ago, there were no young adults with Cystic Fibrosis. And now there’s so many more young adults, and there are actually young adult and adult clinics that have opened up…. and eventually, there will be no need for any of the clinics and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Last month, Melinda McMullin and a team of 55 of the McMullin’s family and friends participated in Great Strides, a walk hosted by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Washington D.C.. By fundraising for the event, the team, titled Team K.E.R.M.I.T., which stands for “Katelin Elizabeth River McMullin Is Terrific,” rose $14, 607.

“The Great Strides walk was the culminating event for her whole fundraising activity so at the last minute we decided to do it and so it’s been exciting and really breathtaking,” Melinda McMullin said.

To fundraise, Melinda McMullin reached out to her family via email and Facebook. Katelin McMullin’s best friend, 2012 Towson alum Myia Smith, was also a part of Team K.E.R.M.I.T..

“I’m pretty sure that she wanted nobody else to have to suffer because an individual doesn’t get cystic fibrosis, a whole family does, a community does,” Smith said. “It’s really important that we raise awareness because it’s an awful disease and it’s important for people to know.”

But despite the disease’s progressive nature, Melinda McMullin said that Katelin lived her life to the fullest every day.

“Katelin was a pretty awesome human being,” Melinda McMullin said. “This is just something that these people deal with from birth. And their character, their tenacity, their determination is just amazing. You would never know that they were sick and they don’t want to be defined by their disease.”

During her time at Towson, Katelin McMullin was a theatre major and held multiple roles in Towson’s plays. It was her dream to become an actress, Smith said.

“[She] was this incredibly charismatic person,” Smith said. “She changed my life so I’m definitely going to do whatever I can to help the lives of other people with cystic fibrosis.”

Melinda McMullin said that she hopes that others will want to get involved for this cause, following the lead of Katelin McMullin herself.

“She lived a lot in her 25 years, so we are doing this for her,” Melinda McMullin said. “And she finally owned cystic fibrosis…She did not want to spend any of her life being defined by it. She finally owned up to it and was like, ‘well you know what, I have this and I’m going to do all I can to make things better for me and for other people.’”


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