It’s quite the humbling experience when you’re credited with helping save lives. Not just in the abstract, but when name and faces — like Libby Pelican Seamans, Samantha Pelican Monson and Piper Beatty Welsh — say unequivocally that their presence on this earth would not still be possible were it not for the American Airlines annual Celebrity Ski event benefiting cystic fibrosis research.
Since 1989, Libby, Sam and Piper have been the ambassadors at American’s annual Celebrity Ski Weekend in Vail, Colo. So far, the event has raised more than $33 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Money from the event, one of the nation’s largest CF fundraisers, has gone toward research and therapies that have been proven to be the best-known treatments to date. President Barack Obama mentioned the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in his State of the Union address this year, as an example of how properly funded research can provide paths to “personalized or precision medicine” — taking into account individual biological make-up to design personalizing treatment and medications. It’s a groundbreaking approach to fighting disease and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is at the forefront.
With the charity event, all three women say they want to change the way cystic fibrosis patients are viewed — and how patients view themselves. “I was told not to go to college, then not to study abroad, then not to go to law school, then not to work at a firm,” Piper says. “But here I am. Fifty years from now, we’re going to have a whole group of old CF’ers looking around, saying, ‘What was I waiting for?’”