‘Walk This Way’ raises more than $160,000 for cystic fibrosis

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 345 views 

Cyr Lawson died from cystic fibrosis while he was still in his 20s.

His sister-in-law, Kristyn Lawson, wanted to honor his memory and do something that would add tomorrows to the lives of patients with the disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. So, five years ago, she worked with others to establish a fundraiser. The inaugural event collected $10,000.

Fast forward to Saturday (Sept. 21). More than 500 individuals attended the evening’s Walk This Way with the Finest Fashion Show at the Metroplex Event Center in Rogers. Final numbers were not immediately available, but Lawson said that before the evening’s activities began, $163,000 already had been raised. Organizers said that the total receipts, including auction items, could reach $200,000.

That sum and the attendance would amaze Cyr, his family said.

“He was a very private person,” Kristyn Lawson said. “He would be shocked to see how many people are here on his behalf.”

Her husband, Levi, agreed and noted that the great thing about the fundraiser is that the bulk of the money goes for research into finding a cure. Already, through research initiatives, the life expectancy of cystic fibrosis patients has been extended significantly. “Life with the disease is far different today than it was 50, 30, or even 10 years ago,” according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website.

Diane Byram, development director for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation — Arkansas Chapter, Northwest Arkansas Branch, told the audience the average lifespan for a CF patient is now 37. Researchers, she said, are moving toward developing potential drugs that attack the cause — a faulty gene — and in that way, find a cure.

“We’re all here tonight to help make that happen,” she said.

Sally and Al Dominguez, vice president for household and paper goods and chemicals at Walmart, served as executive chairs for the event. Johnson’s baby products division was the title sponsor.

Twenty-five individuals, chosen as the 2013 Northwest Arkansas Finest Young Professionals, organized fundraising events in advance of the show, and they were introduced and honored at the fashion show.

Allison Van Matre, a marketing manager for Sam’s Club, organized a ladies’ night out at Elysian, an event at Crabby’s and other activities to raise funds. Until she began her participation, she did not realize how many people in the region were affected by cystic fibrosis. She enjoyed the opportunity to give back to the community, she said.

In addition to Van Matre, other Northwest Arkansas Young Professionals participating were (and their name links to their fundraising totals):
Michael Dean Allen, a buyer in children's apparel at Walmart, who collected more than $20,000 and received the Cyr Lawson award as the top fundraiser;

Stephanie Beadle, Trak America;

Cameron Bertel, business development, Sam's Club;

Lenny Buzik, The Nielsen Company;

Margaret Denny, national account manager, Philips;

Jeff England, U.S. strategy, Walmart;

Emily Espinosa, General Mills;

Sean Fraser, ConAgra;

Mustafa Harcar, logistics, Walmart;

Mandy Hathorn, loan officer, Metropolitan National Bank;

Meagan Head, buyer — electronics, Walmart;

Laura Hodges, buyer, Walmart;

Erin Martin, Johnson & Johnson;

Heather Mason, senior buyer — frozen food, Walmart;

Debbie Mathews, buyer — electronics, Walmart;

Drew Michaels, 40/29, lead meteorologist;

Amaud Mitchell, Fayetteville Athletic Club;

Alicia New, Pharmavite;

Jon Pan, Dr Pepper/ Snapple;

Kevin Thompson, Liberty Bank;

Todd Varnadoe, advisor, AVP, Arvest/treasury management;

Dustin Williams, owner/president, Precision Fitness;

Justin Williamson, senior buyer — dry grocery, Walmart; and

Greg Wise, Deco Pac Inc.