Last night, once again the Holiday Inn at Fogelsville, Pennsylvania was taken over by the 23rd Annual Beach Bash to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, www.cff.org with music by the Flamin’ Caucasians, limbo & hula hoop contests, and the usual amount of raucous fun. But something was missing – namely, my friend Steve Reese, who was chairman of this event for many years, and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the foundation. To say he put an astronomical amount of work into organizing Beach Bash every year is an understatement, but he loved every minute of it and his enthusiasm was contagious; he was always trying to drag his multitude of friends to his “birthday party” (his birthday is today).
Steve Reese died late last year of cancer, after a long and grueling illness that seemed preposterous since he was one of the fittest, most positive, and healthy people I know. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation honored him last night, and in his memory, I’m making my $100 contribution today to the cause he championed for so many years.
I first learned about cystic fibrosis from a friend of mine, a cameraman in Denver, whose daughter had been diagnosed with CF. At four, she had been in the hospital more times than you could count, and the daily regimen of keeping her lungs clear was brutal. CF is an invidious disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States, all the more painful for parents in that it’s an inherited genetic disorder. Most children are diagnosed by the age of 2, and although few children with CF used to live to attend elementary school, now the median survival age is more than 37 years. The CF Foundation has been the driving force behind research, new medical treatments and the pursuit of a cure since 1955.
Steve Reese was a person who embraced life, loved to travel, was always laughing, and left us way, way too soon. I hope that soon we will never have to say that about another person with Cystic Fibrosis.