Colleen’s Crew 2020
Sponsored by New Era Custom Design and Cabinet
Supporting: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Every story has a back story. Ours begins with the 1996 birth of Pat and Molly Crowley’s second of three daughters. Aptly named Colleen, she was, and is, the perfect embodiment of her Irish heritage – fair skin, strawberry hair, a smattering of freckles and a smile that always extends to her eyes.
At just one week old, Colleen was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a “progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.” The disease affects about 30,000 people in the United States and its diagnosis carries an unenviable, although rapidly increasing, life expectancy.
Not ones to shy from a challenge, The Crowley family – immediate and extended (a veritable army) – made it their vocation to understand the disease, normalize as much of Colleen’s life as possible and be at the forefront of helping to find a cure. Pat and Molly became very involved in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) and, over the past 15 years, with the help of friends and family, have helped to raise more than $750,000 towards research by hosting a team in the local annual “Great Strides” CFF walkathon. The team name? Colleen’s Crew.
“In July, Jean and I picnicked with the Kinley’s and Wight’s. I proposed the idea of entering a boat in downtown Frederick’s annual Sailing into the Winter Solstice event,” says Ballantyne. “The Great Strides walk was planning to go virtual because of the pandemic; we knew it would be harder to raise funds in traditional ways, so why not branch out our efforts while maintaining COVID restrictions?”
As usual, the group was all in and, as usual, it was a secret from the Crowley family.
The seed was planted and grew quickly.
The Thursday before the drop-in, Ballantyne paid a surprise visit to The Crowley Company to give Pat the heads up, sharing pictures from the production process.
It wouldn’t be right to end the story without filling you in on how Colleen, the Crowleys, and countless other families have benefited from the advancements made in research and treatments over the recent past. New protocols have been approved and life expectancy has more than doubled during Colleen’s 24 years.
Sailing Through The Winter Solstice begins sometime in mid-November every year when the boats that have been constructed and planned are launched into Carroll Creek. The 12+ week event benefits the city of Frederick in more ways than one. Each boat supports a local charity. Sailing Through Winter Solstice endures through the weekend of Fire and Ice – the first weekend in February. Shortly after that weekend, the boats are lifted from the creek and put into storage – only to be refurbished and polished up for the next year. For 2020 there were 24 boats raising funds for charitable organizations, and one smaller boat, USS Hamster, constructed to serve as a maintenance and rescue boat for repairs, as needed during winds, snow and ice conditions.