Paddleboarding for a Cause: The Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis

It’s safe to say that Gabe Barajas has never been afraid of a challenge. In fact, he embraces challenges – and the excitement and adventure they bring to his life. According to WCNC Charlotte, Gabe began working for NASCAR in the early 2000s, starting with Richard and Kyle Petty before moving on to work with a variety of teams as a pit crew member and mechanic. He left this realm in 2019, but that didn’t stop Gabe from pursuing new lines of adventure. When he tried paddleboarding in 2021, he fell in love with the sport. Now, Gabe is ready to put his paddleboarding to good use by participating in “The Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis” in June to help raise awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis and related research.

The Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis: A Fundraising Venture

Travis Suit launched The Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis in 2013, two years after his daughter Piper had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. On the website (where paddler registration closes on April 22, 2022), Travis explains that The Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis is:

a long-distance endurance paddle challenge and international championship race that takes paddlers 80 miles across the Gulf Stream from Bimini in the Bahamas back to the Florida mainland. The event was inspired because of the incredible health benefits of the Ocean for those living with cystic fibrosis, a terminal lung disease.

When Gabe first heard about The Crossing, he was touched. He is a father of two healthy girls, but was inspired by Travis’ determination to raise awareness about CF and do whatever he could to support Piper. So after he read about the event, Gabe knew that he wanted to join in. He registered and began training: paddling, yoga, volleyball, hiking, and other exercises multiple days per week.

Gabe and his family are currently fundraising for $6k. Each paddler has a minimum fundraising goal of $1,500. Donations are crucial for spurring research into cystic fibrosis and searching for a potential cure. During the event, paddlers are given 18 hours to complete the 80-mile distance. Gabe hopes to finish with at least 2-4 hours left to spare.

If you’re interested in joining The Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis, head here for more information, registration details, and what you need to know as a paddler.

About Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic condition caused by CFTR gene mutations. Normally, this gene plays a role in salt movement and regulation throughout the body. However, gene mutations alter this movement. As a result, those with CF do not have slippery mucus, but thick and sticky mucus which accumulates throughout their respiratory and digestive systems. CF is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, meaning patients must inherit one defective gene from each parent. An estimated 1 in 2,500-3,500 Caucasian newborns in the U.S. is born with cystic fibrosis. This condition is more rare in those of other ethnicities. For example, only 1 in every 17,000 African American infants, or 1 in every 31,000 Asian American infants, is born with CF.

As the sticky mucus accumulates, it can cause a number of health issues. In addition to respiratory damage and problems, the mucus also stops digestive enzymes from being released. Therefore, patients are unable to absorb enough nutrients. Symptoms may vary in severity. These symptoms include:

  • Exercise intolerance
  • Persistent coughing and wheezing that may produce thick mucus
  • Shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing
  • Poor weight gain
  • Recurrent lung infections
  • Foul-smelling, greasy stools
  • Constipation
  • Stuffy nose
  • Salty skin
  • Intestinal blockages (in newborns)
  • Infertility (in males)
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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