The Mertens family

The Mertens family, from left: LeighAnn, Emmery, Truck and Brett — also the Montrose High School football coach — participate in the cystic fibrosis awareness walk in 2017 in Colorado Springs. The Mertens family started an event of its own for CF after their son was diagnosed with the disorder at an early age. 

Montrose High School football coach Brett Mertens and his wife LeighAnn were amazed last year to see the support at the inaugural walk to raise funds for, and awareness of, cystic fibrosis (CF) — a disease they’re quite familiar with.

Their son, Truck, was 3 weeks old when he was diagnosed with CF. Since then, the Mertens family have been participants in the nation-wide CF awareness walk, and in 2017, set up a local event in Montrose.

They are hosting a second annual 3-mile walk starting at 9 a.m. Saturday from the MHS football field to Riverbottom Park. No registration is necessary to enter, and it is free and open to the public.

The walk proved to be a success last year; about 80 people participated, Brett said.

“Our goal is to generate support and awareness for cystic fibrosis,” he said.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that causes a buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry, more than 30,000 people are living with cystic fibrosis in the U.S. Worldwide, it’s more than 70,000. Additionally, approximately 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year. More than 75 percent of those people with CF are diagnosed by age 2.

When Truck was first diagnosed, Brett and his family were in the middle of a big transition — they were moving from California to Montrose. Still, they considered the news a blessing in disguise, because they ended up closer to Denver, which is home to the leading location for CF research in Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Brett said Truck, now 3, looks and acts like any child his age. But, the young boy requires ongoing treatment. Truck has to take enzymes whenever he eats food so he can digest it, his father said, in offering just one example.

It is hoped the upcoming walk will promote more understanding about those diagnosed with CF. The donations made from the walk will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, said Brett.

“We’re looking forward to doing it again,” he said.

Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.

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