At the age of 2, Colin Penuel's life took a dramatic change in course when he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis – the number one genetic killer of children and young adults in the United States. Now 24 and studying history, technology and society at Georgia Tech, Penuel certainly knows what it's like to conquer adversity.
"Living with CF is not easy," Penuel explained. "It requires a great deal of treatments every day. I have breathing treatments and I take more than 20 pills each day."
When Penuel was 16, he suffered a fractured skull that required surgery to remove the blood clots from his head which were putting pressure on his brain. For most people, this would be a scary and overwhelming ordeal, but Penuel credits having grown up with CF as his calming influence in dealing with hospitalizations, surgeries and life-threatening situations.
Penuel has also discovered that running has helped greatly improve his quality of life mentally, physically and emotionally. Since the government does not provide any funding for CF research, Penuel has taken it upon himself to help the cause by running the Publix Georgia Half Marathon on March 17 to help raise money and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 65 Roses. This marks the third year of his involvement in the organization by running the Publix half marathon event.
Additionally, he is running to inspire others with CF to lead active lifestyles and carry a positive outlook. Colin's encouragement also inspired his mother, Becky Penuel, to start a diet and exercise program three years ago which has seen her lose 70 pounds. She will be serving as a volunteer at this year's race to help support Colin and Team 65 Roses.
"I would not change the fact that I was born with CF," Penuel said. "It has taught me a lot about life and I feel it has played a large role in making me who I am today. I want to show people that you are stronger than you think and with a little faith and a positive attitude you can do anything."
Colin will be presented the Team 65ROSES "Inspire" Award at the team's pre-race dinner celebration on March 15. Each year the award is given to an adult with CF who has been inspiring to others through the year. In addition to running and fundraising at the Georgia Half-Marathon and volunteering at other Miles for Cystic Fibrosis and CF Foundation events, Colin represented Team 65ROSES in the Atlanta Marathon Relay and also ran and fundraised at the Melbourne Music Marathon/Half-Marathon in Melbourne Florida earlier this month.