RIGBY – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) donated $10,000 to the Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on Tuesday (Oct. 10). The gift is ITD’s prize money from winning the America’s Transportation “People’s Choice” Award for the Thornton Interchange project.
The opening of the Thornton Interchange in eastern Idaho south of Rexburg last November culminated 20 years of U.S. 20 safety improvements. Thornton was the last of seven new interchanges built along a 34-mile stretch of the highway between Idaho Falls and Sugar City. The project and the overall U.S. 20 safety improvements have reduced serious-injury crashes by 75% and cut fatalities to less than one per year in that stretch of highway.
Cystic Fibrosis hits close to home for the eastern Idaho office of ITD known as District 6. Foreman Scott Robinson’s daughter, Lina, has suffered with it since birth. The disease is a progressive, genetic malady that causes persistent lung infections and eventually limits one’s ability to breathe.
Lina, 20, braves three different breathing treatments every day – each of which takes an hour. She takes special enzymes with every meal to help with digestion, consumes an array of vitamins and other supplements, and eats high-calorie meals and snacks. She regularly visits doctors, nurses, nutritionists, social workers, x-ray lab technicians, and pharmacists. Prescriptions cost $15,000 per month.
“The disease is a steady challenge,” she said, “I have learned to accept the treatment requirements. A number of medical advances over the years have improved my quality of life. The biggest challenge is trying to fit the treatments into my busy schedule.”
So far there is no cure for the disease. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation supports a wide range of research that focuses on the hunt for a cure and improving the quality of life for patients. The disease afflicts roughly 70,000 people worldwide.
One in 30 people are carriers of the recessive Cystic Fibrosis gene. If a man is a carrier and marries a woman who is a carrier, the couple has a 25% chance of having a child with Cystic Fibrosis.
“We are partnering with the Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by donating the prize money to them,” said ITD District 6 Engineer Jason Minzghor. “ITD is pleased to be able to contribute and, in this small way, be of assistance to Lina and others who deal with the genetic disease.”
“Last year, about 89 cents of each dollar of total foundation expenses was spent on research and medical, community and education programs,” said Ashley Barton, senior development director of the Utah and Idaho Chapter in Salt Lake City. The chapter is the nearest Cystic Fibrosis Foundation office in the region.
“We take pride in being an effective organization and are careful stewards of every dollar raised in support of our mission to further research and improve treatment,” Barton said.
Because Cystic Fibrosis is rare, the foundation doesn’t receive any federal funding, said chapter Executive Director Laura Hadley.
“Efforts of the chapter directly affect local Idaho communities and the patients cared for at the Cystic Fibrosis Care Center located at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Boise,” Hadley said. The care center at St. Luke’s is the only Cystic Fibrosis clinic in Idaho.
Lina typically visits the Cystic Fibrosis clinic for adults at the University of Utah Hospital. In her childhood, she visited the pediatric Cystic Fibrosis clinic at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.
The Utah and Idaho Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation works with the Cystic Fibrosis Care Center at St. Luke’s to ensure standardized, quality care.