More than 70,000 Americans live with the life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system known as cystic fibrosis.
Eyewitness News introduces you to a little girl who is battling cystic fibrosis head-on and sharing how others can help find a cure.
When you see 10-year-old Brynn Hennessey on the soccer field you can feel the intensity from the pint-size player.
"She doesn't get off the field. She just likes to keep playing," said one of her teammates. "She doesn't stop. She keeps trying."
With every kick, every goal, the fellow Portland Panthers look up to Brynn and her tenacity is respected both on and off the field.
"It's a disease that affects my lungs and pancreas. Mucus gets stuck in my lungs and it's hard for me to breathe," Brynn said.
Brynn was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 3 weeks old. Her mother, Jennifer Hennessey, explained to Eyewitness News her daily routine.
"She wakes up in the morning. We nebulize for 20 minutes and then nebulize for another 20 minutes. Then a vest treatment for another 20 minutes," said Jennifer Hennessey. "So she can't just wake up in the morning and grab a snack and get on the bus."
Aside from these everyday treatments, Brynn has been hospitalized three times and takes close to 17 pills each day. Brynn is a self-proclaimed girly-girl who loves the color pink.
She said she wants to be a fashion designer and singer when she grows up. Bryan is focused only on her future.
"Some people live until they're like 20 or something because they don't take their medication," Brynn said. "I do, but I'm so lucky to be alive and have treatments."
Her positive attitude was implemented at an early age by her parents
"She's gotten more independent and I think by enacting her independence as she's gotten older it's helped us as a family, especially Brynn," said father Mike Hennessey. "She has her own identity and control over the disease."
Now the goal for the Hennessey family is spreading awareness about cystic fibrosis.
May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month and in honor of Brynn her entire team has been wearing purple. Her soccer coach and Eyewitness News engineer John Discenza explained the touching tribute
"The whole league decided to support Brynn, not just her team but the boys too," Discenza said. "All the parents paid $10 for socks and $5 go to cystic fibrosis."
They are also selling purple phitens that many Portland residents have been sporting to support cystic fibrosis awareness. Plus, the entire team will be walking in the Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides Walk in Wethersfield this weekend. In the past, hundreds have taken part in the annual walk.
"It's important to find a cure. It gets really hard sometimes," Brynn said.
If you want to know more about the Great Strides Walk in Wethersfield this Sunday, want to sponsor Brynn's team or simply would like to donate to the cystic fibrosis cause, click here.
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