Bowl for Breath is a mother's mission

"Noreen Ellsworth is a mom with a single-minded mission.By herself, she has organized Oak Harbor's first Bowl for Breath fund-raiser, coming up this Saturday, Oct. 21, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the Oak Bowl on Midway Boulevard.The afternoon of bowling, which is part of a nation-wide event, will raise money that will go toward the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis. It's a cause that's very important to Ellsworth.Her 17-year-old daughter Tabitha Roemish, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 6 months. There have been scares along the way, but the disease hasn't kept her from being a busy teen-ager. Roemish is a cheerleader Coupeville High School, maintains a high grade point average, works at a part-time job and loves head-banger music. But every once in a while she has to take time out for intravenous treatments that clear her lungs of the thick mucous that is the major symptom of cystic fibrosis. She can't go to school while the treatment is in progress, and if she doesn't have it, she can't breath.Cystic fibrosis is the number one fatal genetic disease of children and young adults in the United States. A defective gene causes the body to produce a thick, sticky mucus which leads to chronic and fatal lung infections. It also affects the pancreas, preventing enzymes from reaching the digestive tract, to break down and digest food. Roemish takes 10 different enzymes at every meal, her mom says, and needs many other medications, as well. She visits Children's Hospital for check-ups every two or three months. At present, she is staying pretty well in balance.But it's nail-biting, I tell you, Ellsworth said. Because there is no cure.Life expectancy for people with cystic fibrosis is about 30 years, she said. When Tabitha was 6 months, it felt like we had a lot of time. But now she's 17 and we need a cure now. This is getting scary.The money that's raised at Bowl for Breath on Saturday will go directly to research funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The gene that causes cystic fibrosis was identified in 1989, and promising new treatments are being explored, but for young people like Tabitha, there's no time to waste. There is no support group or association for people with cystic fibrosis and their families on Whidbey Island, so Ellsworth decided to go it alone with her fund-raiser.I've been wanting to do this, Ellsworth said. So I decided this is the year I was going to go for it.Participants in Bowl for Breath are asked to pledge $35 or raise at least that amount through sponsorship. There are prizes to be won through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. There's still time to sign up. For information, call Ellsworth at 678-5251 or 257-2420. "

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