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McKeesport aerobic fundraiser for cystic fibrosis challenges attendees

| Monday, March 10, 2014, 2:16 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Hannah Camic of Elizabeth dances with her daughter Noelle during the Sweat for CF fundraiser supporting Hannah's goal to run Pittsburgh's half-marathon as part of Team Cystic Fibrosis.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Impact Fitness instructor Samantha Roland leads a dance aerobics class during the Sweat for CF fundraiser on Saturday.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Sweat for CF participants, including Stephanie Diejunas and Jessica Matthews, get an aerobic workout by combining Zumba and hip-hop dance moves.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Sweat for CF participants, including Debbie Bertok, get an aerobic workout by combining Zumba and hip-hop dance moves.

Hannah Camic is pushing herself to the limit as she races for a cure to the chronic disease that has tested her body and her will.

Camic, 30, is a science teacher at Bethel Park High School. She lives in Elizabeth with her husband Ed and their daughter Noelle. While a passing glance would lead anyone to assume she leads a normal life, Camic's days are bogged down by more than 20 pills and two to three hours of breathing treatments.

She was diagnosed at birth with cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of more than 30,000 people in the United States. It is characterized by the body's production of unusually thick mucus that clogs the lungs, obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from breaking down food.

While her medical regimen compounds her busy schedule as a teacher and a mother, Camic said it doesn't hold her back.

“I've never let CF stop me from doing things. I've never let it take anything away from my life,” Camic said. “Running a half-marathon shouldn't be any different. It's a new challenge.”

Running 13.1 miles for Team CF in the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 4, Camic is trying to raise $13,100 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Donations can be made online at www.crowdrise.com/cysticfibrosispittsburgh2014/fundraiser/hannahcamic.

As part of that effort, friends and family hosted the “Sweat for CF” aerobic fundraiser on Saturday at Impact Fitness in McKeesport. With 50-plus attendees there to exercise and take part in a basket auction, Camic said she was humbled by the support.

“It's amazing and humbling,” she said. “It's hard not to cry.”

The “Sweat for CF” program was challenging but fun for attendees who took part in Zumba and hip-hop dance aerobics. In another room, attendees cycled in a spinning class.

“If Hannah can run for two hours, we can push ourselves for two minutes,” fitness instructor Samantha Roland encouraged as she led dozens of women through a difficult segment of high-impact aerobics.

A friend of the Camic family, Roland said she wanted to organize something that could make an impact.

“Because she's running for her health, this is the best way we can donate our time,” Roland said. “We're all getting together to do something that we take for granted every single day.”

Participants dressed in the color purple, often used to represent cystic fibrosis awareness, and some wore T-shirts bearing the “Just Breathe” motto.

“We've had so much support from local businesses and teachers,” mother-in-law Valerie Camic said. “Impact Fitness donating this gym time is wonderful.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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