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Hunter students walk for cystic fibrosis cure

Hunter Elementary students took a huge step forward in the fight against cystic fibrosis that raised close to $22,000 Photo by Brandon Hickstoward finding a cure for the disease.
The school hosted a walk-a-thon on Friday with all proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Hundreds of people, including community members, parents and students from other county schools, gathered at Hunter Elementary to support the walk-a-thon.
The walk was held in memory of sixth-grade student Bethany Holder, who died on March 17 because of complications from cystic fibrosis.
“We were blown away when we heard they wanted to do this,” said Gary Holder, Bethany’s father. “That Bethany was thought so much of is special to us. It is amazing that they were able to raise so much money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.”
The walk also honored current Hunter Elementary students, eight-grader Shawn Ryan, seventh-grader Bryana Nelson, and first-grader Devin Wellman and Unaka Elementary eighth-grader Austin Lowe that are all battling the disease.
“This is what it is all about,” said Hunter teacher and walk-a-thon co-organizer Amy Grubb. “I know in my heart this walk has made a difference.”
The walk-a-thon started a 9 a.m. on Friday with a special ceremony recognizing all the families, both of students and of community members, who have been affected by Cystic Fibrosis.
During the ceremony, Grubb presented Bethany Holder’s parents, Gary and Patty Holder, with a yearbook signed by all of her classmates.
“This is very special,” Gary Holder said. “She always loved to get a yearbook and to have everyone sign it.”
The walk-a-thon was kicked off by a family lap for those who had lost a relative to cystic fibrosis. The lap was led by the Holder family who were joined by the sixth-grade class at Hunter Elementary. Following the family lap, a survivor lap for those currently battling the disease made its way around the walk-a-thon path.
The sixth-grade students released purple balloons in memory of Bethany Holder. Kayla Story sang a song. Local cystic fibrosis survivors Whitney Griffith and Heather Yancy were a part of the walk-a-thon.
First-grader Devin Wellman kicked off the school-wide walk-a-thon by announcing the goal for the school.
“We hope that one day CF stands for ‘cure found’,” Wellman said.
Griffith, 28, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 6-weeks-old.
“The illness does not have to define you,” Griffith said. “You can beat it if you do therapies and breathing treatments. So much has improved since I was younger. It is amazing what the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has done.”
Grubb and co-organizer Amanda Barnett said the walk-a-thon was a success, largely because of all the community support they received for the event.
“This has been a real blessing,” Barnett said. “Our goal was $10,000 and we exceeded beyond what anyone thought we would raise.”
Grubb said members of the community sought out faculty at the school to make a contribution to the walk-a-thon.
“People were coming to us,” she said. “We did not have to go out to ask for donations. The community support has been amazing. We received so much support that we did not have to pay out of pocket for anything we did today. Because of that, 100 percent of what we raised is going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.”
In addition to the walk-a-thon, students were treated to lunch, snow cones and funnel cakes and time on inflatable play zones in the afternoon.