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|Sterlington turns out big for St. Romain memorial|
Hundreds of people in the Sterlington community joined Sterlington High School officials Saturday for the second annual Ashley St. Romain Memorial 5K Run.
St. Romain passed away in 2005 after a life-long battle with cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. She was 16.
St. Romain underwent a lung transplant early in her life, which improved her quality of life for several years, said Sterlington High School assistant principal Dell Ashley.
He described St. Romain as the "average little teenage girl," who despite her battle with a life-threatening illness, was always at school and "always had a smile on her face."
Today, her family and friends are proud her name and memory lives on through an effort to improve the lives of other young people.
Money raised from the fundraiser is used to provide scholarship funds to graduating high school students.
Last year, the community raised more than $7,000, and provided three, $2,000 scholarships to local high school seniors.
This year, the event garnered another $7,000 for college scholarships. More than 150 runners and 40 children participated in Saturday's event, which was held at Sterlington High School.
The fundraising event was started by former Sterlington track coach Mike Golson, a close friend of St. Romain and her family.
"He decided he wanted to do something in her memory, so he got this started, and everyone just joined in," Ashley said.
Ashley said people and businesses in the community are very supportive of the event.
"We thank all the sponsors and all the people who make this possible," he said. "It goes to a good cause. Not only does it keep her memory alive here in our community, but it goes to help our future leaders."
About 70,000 people worldwide have cystic fibrosis. Around 30,000 live in the United States, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
In the 1950s, few children diagnosed with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, people with CF can live beyond their 30s and 40s. The predicted median age of survival for a person with CF is about 37 years.