When my sisters and I began building The Sister Project Blog, we knew that aside from all of the lifestyle blogging, we wanted to honor incredible women with inspiring stories. Today is our inaugural Sister of The Month post and this Cool Ass Chick’s story is inspiring beyond measure. She’s a fighter. She’s a mother, a sister, a wife. She is amazing. Her name is Kellene O’Connell.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we? It was 1992. I was on my sweet, sweet ten speed, riding the mean streets of our neighborhood, probably just trying to escape from Nicole’s bologna, when I passed our park and encountered the skinniest (seriously, someone kicked her in a soccer game and broke her leg), sweetest, most hilarious person I had ever met. We would meet up again later that summer in summer school and the rest is history. Our friendship has never skipped a beat. Kellene is the most generous, thoughtful, card sending, birthday remembering friend you’ll ever know. She puts everyone before herself and her desire to be there for her friends and family whenever possible is palpable. Kellene is truly my sister from another Mister.
Then in the blink of an eye, we grew up, got married and started having babies. I will never forget the day after the birth of her son, Brady, for the rest of my life. Within hours of becoming a mother, Kellene also acquired another title. She became The General in the war against Cystic Fibrosis.
Brady was diagnosed with CF, an inherited, chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. He and 30,000 other folks in the U.S. have Cystic Fibrosis. He will turn seven years old in March and in his lifetime he has been hospitalized eight times, all issues CF related. Things like breathing and eating are challenges that 50 pills a day help control. For Brady, there is no cure, but for 4% of the CF population an amazing new drug called Kalydeco has become available and is now controlling the disease. Unfortunately, Brady suffers from a CF gene mutation that remains in the outstanding 10% of the population without a drug advancement in sight. And this is why my friend is incredible.
Overnight she became an advocate, for not only her own son, but for so many others who are affected by this disease. It’s as if being CF Ambassador was as involuntary as breathing for her. She became a spokeswoman for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She started fundraising the year Brady was born and what started out as a little grass roots event has quickly evolved into an incredible fundraiser, which is why drugs like Kalydeco are being developed. Make no mistake, she does not want you to feel sorry for her. CF is why she is here and until CF stands for Cure Found, she simply Will.Not.Stop.
Kellene and I got together for a lighthearted chat. Because that is what you do when you are honoring awesomeness, right? We decided our talk should be around a bar at an adorable little jaunt in our hood. If you haven’t hit up Luccas in La Grange since they have expanded, definitely give it a whirl!
Here are some questions Kellene answered when we sat down for our chat. After we got dorky…
Michelle: Kellene, what is my most annoying quality?
Kellene: You don’t know my birthday or anyone’s. That’s annoying.
Michelle: May 30th or 31st? I suck.
Michelle: Who was your hero before Brady was born?
Michelle: What is your guilty pleasure?
Kellene: Organizing closets.
Michelle: Don’t ever look in my closet.
Michelle: Who is your hero now?
Kellene: Every single CF person/family I have ever met. They inspire me.
Michelle: How many times have you invited Aniston to Shamrockin For A Cure?
Kellene: 6 times.
Michelle: Has she ever come?
Kellene: Nope, but this is the year. I can feel it.
Michelle: Ya gotta let go of Aniston. I love ya, but she aint comin.
Kellene and her amazing Shamrockin Committee have been meeting since May preparing for what Kell hopes to be the most successful event to date. If you dwell near Chicago, or perhaps you are personally touched by this disease or know someone who is and have been looking for a way to get involved, this event is an amazing time and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is an incredible organization committed to finding a cure for every single person affected. Come out and shake the hand of TSP’s Sister of The Month, Kellene O’Connell.
Congratulations, friend. TSP honors you and all that you do. You are a hero within the CF community and I am proud to call you my friend.
Want to help?
Buy a ticket! Make a donation! Follow this incredibly inspiring story!
Love it. Live it. Share it.