Local College Student Strives to Raise Awareness About Cystic Fibrosis
Danie Dane doesn’t have much free time.
In the past year, she’s earned her EMT paramedic certificate from Hocking College, trained for a bodybuilding competition and entered her last semester of college, all while working two jobs.
Last May, however, Dane found time to organize a campus-wide fundraiser also meant to increase awareness of cystic fibrosis as part of a creative submission application for the AbbVie CF Scholarship. AbbVie sponsors a yearly contest and that provides scholarships for higher education pursuits for up to 40 participants who have CF.
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s website, the disease affects 30,000 people in the U.S., including Dane, and 70,000 worldwide. People with CF experience:
- A defective gene that causes the body to produce organ-clogging mucus
- The mucus can cause severe inflammation in the lungs, which leads to infections
- Difficulty digesting food: the mucus prevents digestive enzymes from working properly
- May is National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, and as part of her creative project, Dane visited classes to speak about her condition and her goals for the fundraiser.
“My doctor sent me information about the scholarship and I actually wasn’t going to do it at first, but then some friends talked me into it,” Dane says. “We had to do a creative project so I did a PowerPoint of my life and the event here I did at Hocking. I went into classes, I gave a little spiel about why I was doing it, and we actually raised just under $1,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.”
Part of Dane’s support system comes from Michael Whittemore, a student affairs coordinator for the Hocking College’s school of Public Safety Services. Though she approached Whittemore for suggestions and support early on in the planning process, Dane wanted to do all of the work herself.
“She did a lot of the legwork; it was pretty cool to see that,” Whittemore says. “She was telling me all of these ideas she wanted to do, this and that, but she didn’t even consider all the help she could get around campus. She was already doing so much legwork on her own. I helped her by supporting her and directing her on where to go for support.”
The event was a success on campus: 40 other students attended, along with Dane’s friends, family and Hocking College staff members. Dane sold t-shirts and made CF fact cards taped onto purple balloons, which were released by the attendees.
Whittemore says Dane and her campaign taught him much more than the life-altering effects of CF.
“Danie is just a very vibrant, bright person,” he says. “She’s got a life-threatening illness, and you’d never know it. I realized that I learned more about Danie than anything.
“Yeah, I picked up on some of the facts of cystic fibrosis—it’s a nasty disease. But I learned that that girl’s got some unbelievable heart.”
Though Dane did not receive the AbbVie scholarship this year, she said she is glad to have taken the chance to spread awareness about the disease.
“Raising awareness is not about just doing it, it’s about explaining it,” she says.
Dane has what she calls a “light case of CF,” and she is able to live normally. She still gets hospitalized two to three times a year, and has undergone 16 surgeries, endured 18 PICC lines (IV tubes of antibiotics) and a feeding tube placement. But although she has CF, she doesn’t feel like a victim of the disease.
“I don’t look at it as all bad, it’s just who I am, that’s all I know,” she says. “To me, that’s normal.”
Dane, who is originally from Seven Mile, Ohio, says she hopes to come back to Hocking in the spring to do another fundraiser. Aside from organizing fundraising campaigns, she spends time working at the Hocking College student center gym and at Goodfella’s Pizza in Athens. Her bodybuilding competitions also take up much of her time: five to six-day-a-week workouts, including cardio, fill up her schedule, alongside her regularly scheduled classes.
She participated in the National Physique Committee’s (NPC) National Qualifier competition at Ohio State in September, where she came in 12th place out of 14 entrants in the women’s figure category. Her plan for the next year is to continue following a diet high in protein and calories in order to gain up to 30 pounds of muscle, so she’ll have an even better shot at the 2015 NPC championships.
As far as raising awareness about CF, Dane says she encourages everyone, not just those affected, to take time to gain a little knowledge about the disease.
“Just look it up,” she says. “Even if you tell one person that didn’t know, that’s one person that didn’t know [who now knows].
“The word ‘CF’ is getting out there, and that’s the biggest thing.”