March 24 2010

Dottie Lessard

“To truly live life fully, we must do the things we believe we cannot.”

My life has been a nonstop journey of repeatedly beating the odds set before me. I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 6 weeks old and was not expected to make it past 2 years of age. But, with the support of my family and their encouragement of my athletic abilities, I was able to overcome my negative prognosis and am living today successfully and happily.

In spite of my dedication to athletics, I had to be placed on the transplant list in 1992. I remained on the list for two years, a time during which I strengthened my body as much as possible to increase my odds of survival post-surgery. I finally had my transplant in 1994 and my life has improved exponentially since the surgery.

Since the transplant, I have won several gold medals in the US Transplant Olympic Games, have carried the Olympic torch through Boston, and have even been recognized as one of Boston’s Exceptional Women of the Year. I have been fortunate enough to have been featured on HBO Real Sports and have even been given Runner’s World Magazine’s prestigious Heroes of Running award.

Because children with CF inspire me to better myself every day, I founded a nonprofit called Dottie’s Dream that provides home exercise equipment and swim or gym memberships for children who have CF and/or are waiting for a transplant. I know how important exercise is for living with and overcoming the disease and it is my goal to provide the opportunity to as many children as possible to maintain a healthy life style.

Of all of my accomplishments, I am most proud of be the mother of my son Liam and to be a trailblazer for all those with CF. My goal is to be around for my son for a very long time and to teach him the importance of positivity and inner strength. I truly, truly believe that eventually there will be a cure for cystic fibrosis, but until that time, I plan on staying fit, remaining healthy, and living my life to the fullest every single day.