Jillian Ferguson has spent the majority of her young life dealing with Cystic Fibrosis. The congenital lung disease has been a part of her daily routine since she was diagnosed at age three.
Ferguson takes handfuls of medications throughout the day to keep her digestive system, respiratory function and pancreas all working properly.
A skipped medicine or missed doctor's appointment can mean spending a week or more in the hospital.
Even with the medicines, Jillian typically has to go for what she calls a "tune up" in a hospital setting about once every six months.
For lots of kids, that would be a good enough reason not to get out and rough it up in a tough game like field hockey.
Not for Jillian. For this Southern High senior, a game like field hockey is what keeps her mind off her medical troubles.
Jillian's coaches, Allisin Wagner and Cindy Gray, wanted to come up with an idea for a CF fundraiser during one of their field hockey games. fundraiser. They reached out to Jillian's mom Jobi
They sold purple chains that were hung along the fence during the game against Annapolis High.
"Jillian—she was excited about it—she got into it. She helped raise money. She didn’t want it to be about her. She wanted it to be about raising money and finding a cure," Jobi said. "She wanted to do it for everyone who has CF. She doesn’t like a lot of attention She doesn’t use it as a crutch. That is why she works so hard."
And that is what they did last week, raising $3500-plus for Cystic Fibrosis of Maryland.
Not only did Jillian get into it, but her whole team got into it, raising money during lunches and donning purple shirts in solidarity with Cystic Fibrosis sufferers.
When they told the team from Annapolis, they too jumped at the chance to help a fellow field hockey player and Anne Arundel student, who, for a moment wasn't an opponent, but an ally in raising funds for a cause.
The shirts they wore had a field hockey stick on the front and said "stick it to Cystic Fibrosis."
The Maryland foundation for CF had goodie bags for the players and High Starr Copies in Annapolis made game-day banners for free (the owner, Andy Hightower's son suffers from Cystic Fibrosis).
"Jillian has gone through with these girls," Jobi said of Jillian's field hockey teammates. "This year the team has 10 seniors. This was a good education about CF. They are all pretty aware of it, but it has opened the eyes to the parents and community."
Jillian may not have wanted it to be about her, but at the end of the game, which the Lady Bulldogs lost to the Panthers, the team presented 65 roses to Jillian, who plays defense.
"It was really special," Jobi said, explaining that 65 roses is a saying in CF circles because there was a child who couldn't pronounce "Cystic Fibrosis" and named it "65 Roses" instead.
For more information, visit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - Maryland Chapter.