Family's foundation fighting cystic fibrosis to have virtual fundraiser for Night of Hope

One family fighting cystic fibrosis turned their fear into fundraising and this year they are going virtual.

Laura Bonnell has big plans for Sept. 26 - it's the Bonnell Foundation's virtual Night of Hope celebration, raising money for people impacted by cystic fibrosis.

It is a genetic condition Laura's family knows all too well.

"It is an invisible illness but just because I look okay now, doesn't mean that I physically am," said Emily Bonnell.

Emily is 23 and has spent her whole life in and out of hospitals.

"My mom always used to say to my sister and I, is everybody has something, we just have CF," Emily said.

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening disease that attacks the lungs and digestive system. Emily and her sister Molly, who is 25, both have cystic fibrosis.

Laura and her husband had no idea they were both carriers of the CF gene until they had children with the disease.

"We were just shocked and then you just go from there - okay this is what we have, and we have to move forward," Laura said.

Laura says their challenge was how do we make something positive out of this potentially deadly disease.

"We appreciate life so much more and we just live every day and really try to spread awareness and help other people," she said.

It has resulted in fundraising that has helped young people all over the country with college scholarships and has helped lung transplant patients with medical bills.

"We've given out $500,000 in the past 10 years and we just want to keep that going," Laura said. "Because there is such a need - especially in the pandemic."
There have been major advances in the fight against cystic fibrosis but there is no cure.

"It scars your lungs and it shortens your life," Laura said. "If you were born today your life expectancy would be 47.  When my girls were born, it was in the teens."

Her girls are now in their 20s. Molly is in London working on her master's degree and both have been largely quarantined due to COVID-19 and the increased risk of infection - or death - that they face each and every day.

People in the CF community often wear masks and socially distance anyway but the more people who do that - during this Covid crisis, the healthier the CF kids will be,  because they're not exposed to as many germs.

"It definitely works - the social distancing and mask-wearing," Laura said.

And this year's virtual Night of Hope Celebration will ensure all of that. The online event brings together the CF community and beyond for live entertainment, a live and silent auction. You'll meet Molly and Emily and many other young people fighting cystic fibrosis. It is a fight they are determined to win - and The Bonnell Foundation - is committed to helping.

"The need is still there - the need hasn't gone away," Laura said. "It keeps coming in every day that people need financial assistance."

"It's so hard to go through something physically and emotionally and also worry about how you're going to pay for it all," said Emily. "It's just great."

To learn more go to