Powassan woman shaves head in support of cystic fibrosis
POWASSAN -- May is Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Awareness Month and Wendy Carruthers of Powassan, Ont., decided to shave her head in support.
Carruthers told CTV News she wants to "bring the community together" and wants to make a change in her community.
"I want to start the conversation about CF," said Carruthers.
"If you can’t give, you can’t give. You can still talk about CF, you can still raise awareness. We’re only as strong as a community as our weakest members and right now, CF has affected some members of our community so we need to pull together to raise them up."
Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections, limits the ability to breathe over time, and affects other organs as well according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
"In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps germs, like bacteria, leading to infections, inflammation, respiratory failure, and other complications. For this reason, minimizing contact with germs is a top concern for people with CF," the organization's website reads. "In the pancreas, the buildup of mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that help the body absorb food and key nutrients, resulting in malnutrition and poor growth."
Cystic Fibrosis hits close to home for Shelley Ortepi, the co-owner of a Zumba gym in North Bay called The Studio. She’s been raising money for CF for the past six years.
"One of my business partners, Macrena Parron, both of her children have CF. So her cause has really become my cause," Ortepi said.
The Studio's goal was to raise $10,000 for the disease and even though classes have been put on hold due to the pandemic, The Studio was able to raise more than $13,000, which ultimately led to Carruthers shaving her head.
"To have someone who really doesn’t know me say,' yeah, I want to do this,' that is probably one of the most selfless acts I’ve experienced in my life," Ortepi said. "Thank you is not enough words. What she did today was incredible."
Although there is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis, Carruthers hopes her head-shaving will raise awareness and bring in more donations.
"My philosophy is: be the change you want to see, and I want to see our community grow together not apart," she said. "I’m just kind of modelling what I think we all have the ability to do. So, in a random act of kindness, I shaved my head for CF and I’m hoping that starts the conversation."
Carruthers admits she was "terrified" to see the end result. Now, she said her head feels a bit chilly with the breeze, but it’s worth supporting a cause like cystic fibrosis.
Ortepi said The Studio will continue to raise money for CF every May.
"Hopefully we will soon find out that CF stands for cure found," she said.