Local Young Woman Battling Cystic Fibrosis Is On A Quest To Raise Awareness
GAINESVILLE - One young woman from North Central Florida battling Cystic Fibrosis is on a quest to raise awareness. Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and has no cure. While CF awareness month is in May, this is the story of one girl who wants to draw attention to it year round.
When Katelyn Sims is not waitressing here at Ker's WingHouse of Gainesville, she is out advocating for Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.
"When I was 4 and a half I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis." Cystic Fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that has haunted Sims for most of her life. "By the time I was diagnosed I weighed roughly about 25 to 30 pounds. I was really frail, small. Just completely malnourished."
Cystic Fibrosis also known as CF, fills your lungs up with mucus and slowly deteriorates lung function. Most people have to be put on a lung transplant list, while others don't make it. Sims spent most of her childhood in the hospital, where she met others just like her battling CF. Her new friends became near and dear to her heart but eventually, she had to say goodbye.
"So it completely broke my heart and I was the only one left that I knew of that had CF out of any of my friends that I had and to me I guess that was the breaking point and I felt like there shouldn't be a kid that grows up in a hospital like that who has to watch their friends that have the same disease, die from the same disease."
According to the CF Foundation nearly 30,000 Americans have the CF gene. However that's not bringing Sims down; on the other hand, she tries to keep a pretty active schedule. One of the things keeping her busy is her role on the reality TV hit, Ax Men. Coming from a family of loggers, she fit right in. Through the show, she's shed light on the disease.
And when she's not on-set, she’s waiting tables to keep her mind off the disease. Alex Lai a manager at WingHouse said, "Actually believe it or not I never realized she had CF until one day another manager told me, put on the history channel and she's on ax men that's how I found out she had CF. All this time that she had been working here I never realized it. When she was out here working she never used it as an excuse for like not showing up."
Sims has helped organize the Bradford County Great Strides Walk among other fundraisers in the community; all to increase awareness and raise funds for research. Sims is also an advocate for the North Florida chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "It's an amazing feeling to be a part of a foundation where you can watch it grow and you can see the progression and it really makes you feel better and a little bit more confident each day that maybe for me for instance, I won't end up like the rest of my friends," Sims added.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recently asked Sims to be the national spokeswomen for the organization. Something she hopes to assume after graduation.
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