Tour for sixty-five roses or cystic fibrosis raises awareness in 65 days

A young woman with a Clearwater connection is on a cross-Canada tour to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis and the need for organ donations

Kirstin Whitford is on a cross-Canada tour to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis and organ transplants. Her husband

Kirstin Whitford is on a cross-Canada tour to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis and organ transplants. Her husband

A young woman with a Clearwater connection is on a cross-Canada tour to raise awareness of cystic fibrosis and the need for organ donations.

“I decided about one month ago I was going to do this,” said Kirstin Whitford. “I cashed in all my air miles and people have been very generous about helping me.”

Whitford’s husband, Joey Whitford, passed away from CF last February. Although a resident of Powell River, he grew up in Clearwater and there still are a number of his relatives living in this community.

Kirstin Whitford spent a few days in Clearwater last week, visiting with her former husband’s family.

Whitford is calling her campaign 65 Red Roses, 65 Cities, 65 Days.

Cystic fibrosis is one of the most common life-threatening inherited diseases, she said. It affects mostly children and young adults.

Young children in particular have difficulty saying cystic fibrosis and so they often call it “65 roses.”

The phrase “65 Red Roses” is the title of an award winning documentary that tells the story of Eva Markvoort, a Vancouver woman who died from CF when she was 25 years old.

Whitford intends to give away 65 copies of the documentary on DVD while she visits 65 cities and towns in Canada during her 65-day tour.

She is also speaking at special events and with members of the media.

The young woman gave the first copy of the DVD to the mayor of Powell River before she left home. Since then she has given them to celebrities, members of the media, and simply people she met on the street.

Interestingly, several of those she selected have turned out to have some connection with CF.

She began her tour on Aug. 20, which was the anniversary of her husband’s lung transplant. She plans to end the trip 65 days later on Oct. 24, the anniversary of Eva Markvoort’s lung transplant.

Many people are willing to donate organs for transplants but few take the necessary steps to ensure this will happen after their death, Whitford said.

The best way to find information about transplants is to go to www.transplant.bc.ca on the Internet.

Donating blood is also important. Her husband went through several transfusions after his surgeries.

“The first time I donated blood I was freaked out,” she recalled. “I don’t like needles, but I decided to bite the bullet and go for it.”

For those who want to donate to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, there is a link from her blog, www.cfsucks.com. Kirstin and Joey Whitford began the blog several years ago to tell the story of his struggle with CF. Kirstin Whitford intends to continue the blog and use it to report the progress on her tour.

 

“I find this tour really intimidating,” she said. “I find I need to break it down to the visits with people along the way. That makes it feel less of a scary thing I’m doing.”