The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) welcomed a sellout crowd to their 21st Anniversary Celebration of Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest presented by UPMC and UPMC Health Plan.  The event, held at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, was the culmination of months of effort put forth by fifty of the best and brightest professionals across our region who have committed themselves to raising awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis (CF).  Collectively, the 2016 50 Finest Class raised an amazing $450,000 towards finding a cure!

Many of the twenty-five men and twenty-five women had no direct ties to cystic fibrosis making the six month process a learning experience for them.  50 Finest Candidates had the opportunity to learn more about CF from a care center doctor, meet people living with CF and learn more about how the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is working to fulfill their mission – finding a cure for CF and helping all those living with the disease to lead full, productive lives.  The candidates each focused on raising money through sponsorships, letter writing and every creative event imaginable, from tailgates and concerts to unveiling of new apartments on Pittsburgh’s east end.

2016 top fundraiser, Jessica Scalo, who hit her personal fundraising goal of $50,000 was quick to cite that the experience was life-changing for her.

“I had no direct connection with CF before the 50 Finest process started,” said Jessica.  “Fate would have it though that on my last trip to Florida (which I frequent), I met a man from Detroit who shared a story about his daughter suffering from CF. The topic came up when I told him I was from Pittsburgh and he mentioned he’s in and out of Children’s Hospital all the time. I asked him why and he told me that his daughter just had a double lung transplant and is struggling with CF. He sent me her story which she shares online as Myjourney2breathe.  It hit me that what I am doing can really have an impact on the future of family’s exactly like this. It lit a fire in me to push myself to raise as much money as I could!”

Guests of the celebration were quick to hear how the funds donated have impacted those living with the disease.  Hannah Camic, a thirty-three year old CF patient, was on hand to personally thank the 2016 class for their amazing    work this year.

“I feel confident telling people to donate to CFF,” said Jessica.  “Their money is the only thing standing in the way of curing a life altering disease for so many. CFF has created a groundbreaking model to take full advantage of all of the money donated to them to find a cure for CF.  Nearly 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to research.”

“I am thrilled that the Pittsburgh community, especially UPMC and UPMC Health Plan, have been so supportive of this year’s class of honorees,” said Lauren Pesce, Development Director for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Western Pennsylvania Chapter.   “They have been working hard all summer to raise much needed funds and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  The Gala is a time to come together and celebrate their success!”