When 23-year-old Cody Dieruf died in 2005 from cystic fibrosis, her parents had little support from the community. Cystic fibrosis, called CF by many, was and is a little-known disease. It doesn’t get as much attention as more famous ailments like multiple sclerosis or AIDS. Many people don’t even know what it is or how to help those afflicted with it.
So Ginny Dieruf decided to both honor her daughter’s memory and help those families struggling with the often-expensive disease. She and her husband George started the Cody Dieruf Benefit Foundation to help area families with travel costs–the nearest CF treatment center is in Denver. The foundation also provides scholarships to children with CF who want to take part in recreational or educational programs.
In 2006 they held their first Cystic Fibrosis Walk and Auction in Bozeman. That event raised more than $80,000 to help area families with travel costs. Before the second Walk on Saturday morning, Dieruf said the organization now has more than $100,000 in the bank to help Gallatin Valley families thanks to recent donations.
Dieruf said the point of the Walk is to raise awareness of the disease, which causes the body to produce thicker, stringy mucus, which then causes respiratory problems. The best way she saw to do that was to parade supporters, fire trucks, dogs, baby strollers, motorcycles, banners and signs down Main Street.
The spectacle is designed to make people wonder what it’s all about and maybe ask a few more questions, Dieruf said. A parade is hard to ignore, she said.