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Local woman planning soccer match for cystic fibrosis

A soccer match will be held at Fishery Park from 5 -7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The event, dubbed Soccer for Sam, is open to anyone in the community, regardless of skill level in the sport. Participants in the soccer game will simply ask members of the community to sponsor them. The money raised will benefit cystic fibrosis research.
Nikki Engle, whose 1-year-old son, Sam, lives with cystic fibrosis, said it is increasingly important to support researchers in their effort to find a cure for this complex disease.
“The proceeds from this event will go to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,” she said. “It will be used for research and finding a cure. We will be going to an event in Bristol on the 26th, so we are raising money here and will take it to Bristol.”
She added that food will be available from the Unicoi County High School Key Club and Spanish Club, and musical entertainment will be provided by local artists.
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, particularly the lungs and pancreas.
The disease makes breathing difficult and also causes infections that lead to lung damage. In addition to respiratory problems, cystic fibrosis can also block the digestive tract and pancreas, stopping digestive enzymes from getting to the intestines. As a result, the body is unable to break down food and absorb nutrients.
Engle said that while cystic fibrosis causes many health problems, her son is healthy as a result of a strict schedule and medical treatment.
“Sam goes through two hours of treatment each day,” she said. “He takes 40 pills a day just to eat and breathe. But he’s healthy because we work very hard at it.”
Engle added that breakthrough research conducted over the past few decades has increased life expectancy immensely, stressing her hope that a cure could be on the horizon.
“If (Sam) had been born in the 1970s, they would not have expected him to attend elementary school,” she said. “This is why it is so important to help scientists.
“They’re very close to finding something that could drastically affect his life, so we want to get as much money as we can.”
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation reports that while the average life expectancy for a person living with cystic fibrosis in 1955 was around 5 or 6 years old, the current life expectancy, as of 2008, is around 37.
For more information on the Soccer for Sam event, call Engle at 213-0637.