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Group raises $300k for CF research

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North Texas Wine Opener volunteers and sponsors gathered at Flower Mound’s Decanter Restaurant to present the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation with a check for $300,000, making the event the #1 revenue generating fundraiser in the country for the foundation, according to organizers.

The check represents the net proceeds from the gala event on May 12, 2012 at Royal Affairs Ballroom and fundraising efforts such as ‘Lemonade Pals’ and LISD and Denton ISD ‘Change for CF’ student coin drives.

Event co-chairs Eric and Jill Welke thanked special financial sponsors, including Mike & Linda Sheehan, Intellicentrics; Gil Geddes & Debra Duffy; John & Dara Dallas, (Maddie’s parents); Joe & Chris Strange; Scott & Christi Strange; and Cory & Amy Strange. They also recognized above-and-beyond support from John & Carol Carter and Chris Kiser. Najam Jaffri with Decanter generously provided the delicious appetizers for the check presentation evening, and event sponsor Ed Kukol and Moet Hennessey provided a selection of fine wine from Napa Valley’s Newton Vineyard.

“This year’s event exceeded our expectations,” co-chair Eric Welke said. “We continue to be amazed by the generosity and support of this community. Together with our friends and neighbors, we’ve raised $1.7 million for CF in just eight years. Most of the NTWO volunteers do not have CF, or even a family member with the disease. Yet we are invested in this fight, and pledge to work tirelessly toward a cure on behalf of our friends fighting for their very lives.”

The check’s net total was so high because expenses are kept to a minimum so that the maximum amount can go toward research and development. For the 2012 event, chairpersons contained expenses to a low 4.75 percent of the total raised.

“It’s tough to find a fundraising event anywhere in the country with that ratio,” Eric Welke told the crowd. “I think it’s important for you all to know what the event chairs commit to so we can stay true to our mission of bringing in the maximum amount for CF research.”

Colin Hill, a 39-year-old Highland Village resident with CF, spoke to the guests at Decanter about how much these fundraising efforts mean to CF patients.

“When I was diagnosed at three, the life expectancy was nine. It has risen exponentially thanks to events like the Wine Opener.”

Specifically, Hill thanked guests for helping raise fundraising dollars that bring “game-changer” drugs like Kalydeco to market.

Earlier this year, the FDA approved Kalydeco for people with the G551D mutation ages six and older in the United States. Kalydeco is the first drug that treats the underlying cause of CF — a defective gene and its protein product, known as CFTR. Hill has this specific mutation and is currently experiencing a 25 percent increase in lung function thanks to Kalydeco drug therapy.

Hill’s wife Diane was amazed by the results and expressed her thanks as well. “We feel very blessed to connect with such good people, where together we can all make a difference.”

To find out how to contribute to the North Texas Wine Opener and the CFF, visit www.cfwineopener.org.

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