Shelbyville Daily Union

August 27, 2013

2nd Annual Shelby County cystic fibrosis event planned for Sept. 28

Shelbyville Daily Union

---- — This is the first story in a series of five about Cystic Fibrosis and the upcoming Shelby County Cystic Fibrosis event.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis is a disease passed down through families that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body. It is one of the most common chronic lung diseases in children and young adults. It is life-threatening and currently incurable.

Over 30,000 children and adults are affected by Cystic Fibrosis in the United States today. Last year through a series of stories, we shared what living with this disease was like for four young Shelby County citizens, Abbie Pancoast Vollmar, Joel Brachbill, Makenzie Fleshner Erwin and Lexie Taylor, who fight this disease every day. We also told the story of Meliah Miller who lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 24.

These stories offered you brief glimpses into their lives and their daily routines which include medications before every meal to help them digest food. Living with Cystic Fibrosis also means breathing treatments several times a day and treatments via special vests, designed to keep at bay thick, sticky mucus that can clog lungs and lead to dangerous, life-threatening infections. Still, these medicines and treatments are not enough. We need a solution to Cystic Fibrosis.

Abbie Pancoast Vollmar

Wife and mother, Abbie Vollmar continues to beat the odds of Cystic Fibrosis. For the most part, she has been healthy with a daily maintenance routine of several prescriptions and multiple chest treatments through a nebulizer. While her health has been fairly stable, this year did not go without complication. In the spring, Vollmar had a lung infection which sent her to the hospital for four days with pneumonia.

When she is not taking treatments, Vollmar spends her days at home caring for and chasing her extremely active 20 month-old toddlers. She marvels at her twin girls and at how quickly they grow. She talks of her family’s move into their first home and their bright future.

Vollmar said, “I feel blessed every day with the life I have with my husband and our beautiful girls. When I was born, my parents were told they would lose me early. I am a survivor thanks to the medical breakthroughs that have happened in my lifetime. Now people live with Cystic Fibrosis, but it is always a threat. We still have a journey ahead of us. We still need a cure.”

Makenzie Fleshner Erwin

Makenzie Fleshner Erwin has had a tremendous year including marrying Chris on September 15, 2012, a honeymoon cruise to the West Caribbean and horse back riding through the Mayan ruins.

Erwin credited her current excellent health to being happy, her faith in God and being surrounded by a strong support system for those times when she did become ill. She has been proactive with her illness, participating in several drug trials and clinical studies for Cystic Fibrosis.

She states, “I want to overcome this disease. I want to spend my time with my family, and if participating in a medication trial will help lead us all to a cure, then I am happy to be a part of that process. Chris and I are moving into our first home, and want to start a family. I want to be a mom. I have been tested. I am not a carrier of Cystic Fibrosis which means that though this is a genetic disease, my children will not have it. I have every reason to be aggressive with this disease because I want a long future. I want a cure.”

Joel Brachbill

Joel Brachbill just turned 14 and began eighth grade. He has had significant changes in his life in the last year including a new step mother. He said, “I have a new mom and two new siblings. I love it. We just moved into a bigger house that I helped renovate. I volunteer at the historical society which I truly enjoy. My illness is less severe than others. I have to fight the digestion issues with medications, but I have never had pneumonia. Still, I would love to see the end of Cystic Fibrosis.”

Lexie Taylor

Lexie Taylor, Findlay native, saw big changes in this year, too. She graduated from Okaw Valley High School last May. She plans to start college once she moves to join her boyfriend who relocated to Duluth, Minnesota. She was recently hospitalized on August 15 with a serious lung infection related to her Cystic Fibrosis.

Taylor commented, “I hope to leave the hospital soon.

I fight CF every day, and this is only the second time I have been hospitalized in the last two years. Oddly, the last time I was admitted to the hospital it was also on the 15th of August. On the bright side, my boyfriend and I just celebrated four years of being together. I just want to be healthy. There is so much of life to enjoy.”

For these four individuals, living with Cystic Fibrosis is a continual battle for their health and well being. However, each of them has the same philosophy, “I have Cystic Fibrosis. It does not have me.” Each of them also needs a cure.

This year’s sponsors are proud to announce the second annual Shelby County Cystic Fibrosis event. The event was enlarged this year to include not only the Great Strides walk, but also Meliah’s 5K Run and the Bike-a-Thon.

The events’ sponsors include Shelby Memorial Hospital, Shelby Memorial Hospital Foundation, First Federal Savings and Loan of Central Illinois, Villas of Hollybrook, the Shelby Historic House and Inn, and Killam & England Insurance Agency, Inc.

On Saturday, September 28, please join us as we work together to fund a cure for our friends and neighbors with CF. These events will take place at Forest Park.

Registration for Meliah’s 5K Run will begin at 7:30 a.m. with the run starting at 8:00. Registration for the Great Strides walk and the Bike-a-Thon will begin at 8:30 a.m. with those events starting at 9:30.

You may choose to run, to bike, to walk or just cheer on others as they participate or you may wish to volunteer. To volunteer, please call SMH at 217-774-3961 and ask for Jill Wells; to preregister for the Bike-a-Thon, Meliah’s 5K Run or the Great Strides walk, ask for Phil Miller or Carol Heiserman. You may also preregister online at or