Locals gathered at the historic Grand Hall at the Priory Hotel on September 15th for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s (CFF) signature event, The Wine Opener.  It was the perfect venue for an organization that is making “historic” progress of their own, fulfilling their mission – to cure Cystic Fibrosis and provide all people living with the disease the opportunity to live full productive lives.

The organization seems have the perfect trifecta – funding critical research and drug treatment, promoting individualized care, and ensuring access to high quality care. And it has lead to some amazing progress.  Today, CF is usually diagnosed by age 2 and patients can live to be 40 and older. In the 1960s, the life expectancy was around 8.  Through the foundation’s efforts, the life expectancy of people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) has doubled in the last thirty years and research to find a cure is more promising than ever.

That means this fundraising event is opening more than just wine – it is opening doors for more than 30,000 people in the United States living with cystic fibrosis today, about half of them, age 18 or older.  These doors lead to more than 120 CF care centers and 53 affiliate programs nationwide, including more than 100 programs for treating adults with CF.  The high quality of specialized care available throughout this network has led to improved length and quality of life for people with CF.

Wine Opener Event Chair, Jen Fleming, and her husband Ryan, know this first hand.  Ryan was diagnosed with CF at age 3 and just this year, turned 40.  “When Ryan was diagnosed, the life expectancy was about four years of age,” said Jen.  “CF was known as a childhood disease because not many that were diagnosed reached adulthood.  Now if someone were to meet Ryan they would probably not even realize he had CF.  Just think about that – the advancements in treating and managing  CF have been amazing!”

“So many people come back to this event year after year,” said Jen.  “They see the progress being made and the event is just a terrific time.”

The evening is sure to please any “foodie” or “wine enthusiast”.  Guests had the opportunity to savor samplings from many of Pittsburgh’s most popular restaurants, paired with some delicious local vintages to sip in a complimentary wine glass.

“We at Lettuce Eat are extremely excited to take part in this year’s Cystic Fibrosis Wine Opener,” said owner, Rich Hatcher.   “We will be serving our mini Lettuce Wraps and Mini Walking Salads; both will be available 3 different ways, Caesar, Greek & Spicy Asian. More importantly we love contributing where we can when it comes to charity functions.”

Kirk Vogel of Walnut Grill couldn’t wait for guests to sample their culinary creation for this year’s event – Wild Mushroom Chicken entrée and Roasted Beet Salad.  “Walnut Grill continues to partner with CF each year at the Wine Opener because it is an exciting, well-organized event that spotlights the importance of CF’s work while allowing Walnut to support the cause and communicate with our mutual guests,” said Kirk.  “The impressive leadership that CF has drives such a successful event that Walnut loves to be a part of.”

That impressive leadership included 2016 Ms. Pennsylvania, Elena LaQuatra, which led the festivities as Mistress of Ceremonies.  LaQuatra is a former 2013 CFF 50 Finest Candidate and was the 2013 class top fundraiser.  She continues to use her platform to create awareness for CF today.

Evening highlights included live entertainment by Juan Vasquez and a silent auction boasting everything from sports memorabilia to local dining and entertainment packages.

Are you all about partying with a purpose?  Mark your calendar now for November 5th when CFF will host their annual A Passion for Wine Event at PPG Wintergarden.   Visit https://pfw.eventscff.org/ to learn more.