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Taking great strides

By Staff | May 10, 2013

Each year a local group of family and friends team up with Shepherdstown business, Lowe Products to support a cause that hits close to home.

A lot of us who work here are family, said Stephanie Hilker, captain of team “Trenton’s Buddies.”

Each year she and co-captain Chrissy Murphy, a fellow Lowe Products employee and family member, walk in the Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis on behalf of Murphy’s son, Trenton Tigney a, 16-year old high school student living with and battling cystic fibrosis.

Cystic Fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that causes the production and build up of a thick sticky mucus, affecting the lungs and digestive system, according to information provided by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis is a national fundraising event wherein nearly 90 cents for every dollar raised goes toward research, care and education associated with the disease.

According to Hilker, the Baltimore chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation held its first local Great Strides walk in Shepherdstown about seven year ago at Morgan’s Grove Park.

“We found out it was here and wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

Since then, Hilker said the walk has grown bigger and bigger, with over 100 participants, and over $40,000 raised last year.

Hilker, who has been working as the general manager for Lowe Products for 26 years, said that though the wholesale mulch and soil plant often gets a bad rap, the company agreed to help sponsor “Trenton’s Buddies” by matching the team’s total funds raised and providing the team with supplies for the walk, like team t-shirts.

“I want the community to see that they ( Lowe Products) also do something good,” she said.

“Last year we had about 25 people walk and we raised over $10,000.”

Though Hilker describes her nephew Trenton as a “typical teenage boy,” his life has been complicated by a disease that resulted in one hospitalization and two operations last year alone.

Currently being tutored at home, Hilker said Trenton is determined to lead as normal a life as possible despite uncertainties in his physical health.

“It’s amazing that it hasn’t broken his spirit,” she said. “He’s very positive.”

In addition to the walk, the group sends letters to vendors and customers year round inviting them to participate or sponsor their cause.

Hilker said that group will continue to walk each year and raise funds for all people who battle Cystic Fibrosis.

“We would like to see them have a long, healthy life, she said. “We’re hoping they’ll find something that will give him (Trenton) a normal life.”

After Saturday’s walk, Hilker reported the group had raised $9,000 and will continue raising funds until the end of the year.

To donate to “Trenton’s Buddies,” visit www.cff.org/Greatstrides/StephanieHilker7466

or send donations to Lowe Products Inc. at P.O. Box S, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.