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Cystic fibrosis fund-raiser is Sunday

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Reid Rodgers' head bobbed back and forth as he attempted to stay balanced on his mother's knee.

The six-month-old, who recently began sitting up on his own, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis earlier this year, according to his mother, Mandy Rodgers, of Locust Grove.

Both Rodgers and her husband, Michael, she said, carry the gene for cystic fibrosis, a chronic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system, which was passed on to their son.

The couple keep a close eye on their son's health, which requires routine monitoring, Mandy Rodgers said. For instance, today, she planned to take her infant son to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite for a cystic fibrosis health evaluation.

"He goes up there every three months for his cystic fibrosis clinic," she said. "With Reid being sick, I've decided to stay home. So, financially, it's been tough."

Mandy Rodgers said her family has received "a lot of financial assistance through Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite" and some support from family and friends.

Area residents, though, are attempting to take that support farther. Mandy Rodgers' aunt, Sandee Clark, is initiating fund-raising efforts in support for, and awareness of, cystic fibrosis.

Clark has organized a fund-raiser, called "Ride with Reid to Beat CF." It begins Sunday with a breakfast at Southside Steve's Bar and Grill Restaurant in McDonough, and concludes with a 90-minute motorcycle ride through Henry County.

"It's to bring more attention to CF [cystic fibrosis] and help these families, and to help supplement the cost for the health care of these children," said Clark, adding that much of the proceeds earned during Sunday's event will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Clark said the event -- to be held at Southside Steve's, at 715 Industrial Blvd., in McDonough -- will provide attendees with a breakfast at 10 a.m., for $5. Part of the cost of the breakfast, she added, will be added to the fund-raiser. The breakfast will also include raffles of a hand-made quilt, Henry Players' tickets, and a 50/50 cash drawing.

She said ride participants will be able to register for the ride at 11 a.m., for $30 per driver, and $15 per passenger. The police-escorted ride will commence at 12 p.m., and will take riders on a 90-minute ride from Southside Steve's throughout Henry County.

The ride will feature a grand marshal, Joseph McCanne, of Stockbridge. McCanne, now 31, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 3 years old.

"They told my mom I wouldn't make it past 8 years old," said McCanne.

Though cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease, McCanne believes the gene must have skipped generations of his family as he knows no immediate or extended family members who have been diagnosed. He said the disease began to adversely affect his health when he turned 11 years old, and he began to suffer various respiratory complications.

McCanne, a youth pastor at the Landing Church of God in McDonough, said constant infections and bouts with pneumonia as a young adult took their toll on his lungs, prompting doctors to suggest he have a double-lung transplant. He said he had a double-lung transplant on Oct. 7, 2009, which happens to be the day after Reid was born.

"I'm doing great," McCanne said. "It's just made me appreciate the little things in life and things that most people take for granted."

Mandy Rodgers is hopeful that her son will experience similar blessings in his life. She said learning about Reid's diagnosis was a turning point.

"We found out, officially, in January," she said. "I knew nothing about cystic fibrosis. Both my husband and I are carriers, and we had no idea that we were. Once we found out that he could have it, we did a lot of research. We weren't devastated. We knew we had a mission, and that's what we were in a fight to do."