BUFFALO, N.Y. — As the director of strength and conditioning at St. Bonaventure University, Darryn Fiske helps athletes reach their peak performance.
"With my background and doing what I do here, it puts it all in perspective of effort and what's hard and what's not hard," he told 2 On Your Side's Melissa Holmes.
One of the strongest athletes he knows though, is his 18-year-old nephew Andy Herrick, who plays basketball, baseball and soccer for Salamanca High School and has lived with cystic fibrosis his entire life.
"I've never seen a more active kid in my life," Fiske said.
Every day Herrick takes dozens of pills and does two hours of treatments to manage his cystic fibrosis. The fact that he can be a successful three-sport athlete living with the disease is highly unusual.
"I've not let it define who I am. I overcome everything," Herrick said.
CF is a genetic disease affecting the lungs and digestive system. About 40,000 people in the US live with it and there is no cure.
Inspired by his nephew, Fiske organized Salamanca's Great Strides walk about 15 years ago to raise awareness and funds for CF research.
"It has grown. It's an event," Fiske said.
Now hundreds take part each year, including athletes from every team at St. Bonaventure, and together they've raised more than $500,000.
"For a small community like Salamanca, that's pretty good," Fiske said.
Darryn was recently recognized as the 2022 CFF Buffalo Region Volunteer of the Year
"Darryn is so special in what he does to inspire so many. His drive, his passion, is just contagious and that's why he's our volunteer of the year," said WNY Cystic Fibrosis Foundation executive director Heather McKeever.
Because of the money raised by people like Fiske, there have been advancements in treatment, and people with CF like Herrick have the chance to be a star athlete.
"I'm super thankful," Herrick said.
"It motivates me a lot and it makes it a little easier for me to do the things I have to do each day."
And Fiske says he's not going to stop raising money and awareness about cystic fibrosis until CF stands for "Cure Found."
"Just to extend people's lives, I think that's my mission so to speak. What the good Lord put us down here to do," Fiske said.
Fiske's walk in the southern tier is held each fall, but there are other regional walks scheduled for May, as that month in Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month.
To learn more about cystic fibrosis and the local walks, head to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Western New York Chapter website.
To nominate someone to be featured in 2 On Your Side's Selfless Among Us series, email details to Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com
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