I often get asked “why Squash CF”. the obvious answer is because hurling pumpkins hundreds of feet through the air and smashing apart targets is a whole lot of fun! The real answer to why I support finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis and why I helped bring such an amazing event to Ottawa goes much deeper than that.
About 10 years ago I found out that a good friends of mine’s second child, Owen, had been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. At the time I knew only the words Cystic Fibrosis, and that it wasn’t good, but knew nothing of what it actually meant. The reality is that had I been born with CF, being a child of the early eighties, I likely would never have graduated high school and probably would have spent most of my childhood in hospitals. So upon hearing this news I feared the worst, though my education into the world of CF had yet to begin.
Here’s a brief timeline and evolution of what Owen, age ten now, has gone through:
Diagnosed at 7 months after failing to thrive, despite eating/drinking every 1 1/2 hours since birth.
Started feeding him enzymes in apple sauce with everything he ate/drank, as well as a special concentrated multivitamins daily.
Chest percussion physiotherapy was required 2x per day.
Treatments showed immediate improvement, sleeping 8 hours straight for the first time.
Owen was always a trouper and never fought treatments.
He started swallowing his pills at 2 years old and proudly would swallow all 5 at once with every meal.
He was very happy to be rid of the apple sauce and hasn’t touched it since!
By this age asthma had started to be noticeable, adding inhalers to his daily treatments.
Cold and flu season is the toughest for him, taking 3 weeks or more to shake a cough, and often requiring antibiotics.
By the age of 5 daily sinus rinses were required to ward off infections.
At 6 he was introduced to PEP (Positive Expiratory Pressure). This device provided independence and flexibility, taking more control of his own physio treatments.
Today, at 10 years old, he is a bright, goofy boy that loves participating in Judo and playing Xbox.
A typical day starts off an hour before his siblings with lung treatments before school. Then 3 enzymes with every meal, 2 concentrated multivitamins, antacid medication, and 3 different asthma medications. Then an hour of inhaled hypersaline and PEP before bed.
Witnessing the progression of CF and hearing stories from his parents of treatments, medications, and hospital visits really hit home with me. Although Owen is an amazing person, and just like every other kid in so many ways, he has been forced to grow up very quickly and has not been afforded some of the luxuries that many of us take for granted just because we were born healthy. This cause immediately became important to me and I wanted to do what I could to help. It started with donations, but I wanted to do more, I wanted to help out and get involved with my community. So when a friend called and told me about bringing Squash CF to Ottawa, an event involving launching pumpkins through the air with medieval battle machines I knew this was for me!
Squash CF is an incredible event started by Tim Vallillee, a CF’er himself, in Kingston, Nova Scotia back in 2008. Squash CF wasn’t the first event of its kind and it certainly isn’t the biggest, just google pumpkin launching south of the border, but it did turn out to be a great way to raise money and awareness for a good cause while having a ton of fun! The event was an instant success here in Ottawa, people flocked in droves to our first event and we knew immediately we had started an annual tradition. Now in our 5th year people just know that’s what you do after Halloween to dispose of your jack-o-lantern and smash up all the unused pumpkins from the season. Bringing this to Ottawa we’ve created a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy every fall when most other activities and festivals have shut down for the year.
This year, with a new location here at RiverOak, we were able to add more attractions than ever and really start to take the event to another level. We hosted numerous local vendors with everything from produce and meat to jewelry and Christmas crafts, inside there were two bands and a bake sale, and outside near the launchers Hot 89.9 blasted tunes while Foster's served up poutine and chilli. We had our struggles with mother nature, but overall the event was a success, enjoyed by many people, and raised over $2,000 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada.
We're already excited for Squash CF 2019 with so many new ideas popping up every day, we know this event has nowhere to go but up! One thing I know is that no matter how the event goes I will always support Owen and others going through the same battle.