Friday, September 30, 2011

One voice can aid thousands

Often, it takes the strong voice of one to take a stand for the masses in need.

This was the case for Will Barry, a 17-year-old senior at Myers Park, who wanted to stand up for his brother, Jamie Barry, 15, who has cystic fibrosis (CF).

Cystic fibrosis “is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States,” according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Will said it is difficult for CF patients to come together to help lobby for their needs because there is a worry they can get each other more sick because of the mucus in their lungs being released.

“Cancer groups can go up (to D.C.) with hundreds of kids every year to meet politicians, diabetes groups can do it, but CF patients have never been able to do it,” Will said. “My idea was to gather together brothers, sisters, cousins, best friends of CF patients around the U.S. to go to D.C. and do it for them.”

Will said with the help of his parents, Amy and Peter Barry, who are national advocacy co-chairs, he was able to establish contacts across the nation to organize an annual trip to the capitol to lobby for CF patients.

When he was 14, he made his first trip up to Washington with his mom in hopes of speaking with politicians about the disease.

“I was realizing these people sit day in and day out with different lobbyists coming through and it’s monotonous to the point where they almost stop listening,” Will said. “But as soon as you get kids in there who are really passionate and excited, it’s almost a wake up call.”

He went on to say that the politician he was speaking with on that first trip broke down in tears as he explained to her what cystic fibrosis patients go through and what it’s like living with his brother who battles the disease every day.

This year, Will was able to organize about 50 individuals from across the nation to make the trip to D.C. and lobby for CF patients.

“I think it’s just such a great lesson for Will, our family, and anybody else out there who has a cause they feel passionately about,” Amy said of her son’s ambitions.

Look for a complete story in the Young Achievers section soon about Will and Jamie, who teach guitar lessons with friends at Alexander Graham Middle.

Also, if you know (or are!) someone you think we should write about, email me at or call 704-358-6043. In the meantime, continue to look for inspiring young people’s stories on the Young Achievers page. Link


Roshanda said...

This is so inspiring, Brittany! Such a great story. Thanks for sharing.

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