July 11 2011

Danny Ferrone

“We are all in this together. Don’t ever forget that.” 

A lot of young people with CF think that a gradual decline in their health is inevitable, but my story proves otherwise. I was always healthy as a kid, played for various sport teams, including a competitive travel soccer team. Even though I was always extremely active, my health began to decline when I was 18, and by 22, my large airway capacity had fallen to about 45 percent and my small airway capacity had reached about 15 percent.

I was at the point in my life when I was trying to become a man, make something of myself, and was constantly asking myself questions like, “How long will I be here?” and “What kind of quality life do I want and how much work am I willing to put in to get it?” After going through a dark time, I came to the decision that, no matter how difficult it was, I would fight my disease with everything I had until my very last breath.

Now, at 26 years old, my lung capacity is back up to nearly 60 percent and I am in better shape than ever before. When I made the decision to fight back, I decided to begin training for one of the toughest endurance races in the world – the Ironman Championships Triathlon in Hawaii. I completely immersed myself in my training with an attitude that I refer to as “positive madness.” At the start of my training, I had never run more than three miles, did not own a bike, and had never done an open water swim. Over the next two and a half years of training, I ran four marathons, completed three Olympic distance triathlons, and even quit my job to train for three months straight prior to the qualifiers, where only the top finisher in each age group would make it to the actual Ironman event.

Two of my best friends, Joe Dolan and Brian Annes, supported my 100 percent through this whole process and helped me create the Fight Forever Foundation and post all of my training videos online so that I could try to inspire other CFers and to raise money to cure CF. While I did not qualify for the event, I challenged myself constantly and kicked my health back into shape. Training for the Ironman gave me a way to prove that I would never let CF beat me without a fight.

My feelings about CF are simple: My life is in my own hands. It is not a responsibility I would have chosen for myself, but facing my personal challenges has made a stronger person both mentally and physically. I can never say to myself, “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” and neither can any other person who has CF. I always tell people to remember, that in your toughest, darkest hours, you are not alone. Anyone who has ever faced difficulty, whether it is CF or another issue, can be a part of a support system. We are all in this together. Never forget that.

My favorite…
Holiday is Christmas.
Food is Italian.
Pastime is spending time with my loved ones.
Movie is Rocky.
Music depends on my mood.
Color is blu.e
My friends and family call me Boom Boom and would describe me with the word “heart.”
I have had many role models – both within my family and outside of it. I am grateful to all of those special people who have taken the time to teach me along my life’s journey.
My dream vacation is less about location and more about being with the people I love.