Morgan A. Fogle is battling a fatal disease with the same determination she tackles school tasks and karate chops.
The 6-year-old New Windsor girl is the 1997 calendar child for the state Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The photograph of a robust, smiling Morgan pulling a puppy on a skateboard graces the cover on a brochure listing the organization's monthly fund-raisers.
"That picture told the whole story, and the foundation unanimously agreed it should be on the cover," said Joan Rettaliata, director of special events for the foundation. "The Fogles are a tremendous force in raising awareness."
In the photo, Morgan, dressed in a T-shirt that identifies her as a "Lil CF Stomper," has a firm grip on the dog's leash.
"I pulled him around for a while," Morgan said of the photograph taken last year at the Debra Klipsch Memorial Walk Relay in Glen Burnie. "We were all walking to help find a cure for little kids. The cure will make them all get better."
The 1996 memorial walk, named for a child who died of cystic fibrosis nine years ago, attracted 500 walkers who raised $44,500.
Morgan enjoys most exercise, except for ballet -- "too fancy," she said. Physical activities help clear her lungs of the dense mucus that is caused by the disease. Gym is her favorite class at Elmer Wolfe Elementary School, where she is in first grade. "I get to do the monkey bars and balance beam," she said. "I can swing on the ropes, and I don't fall."
She will gladly show off her karate prowess and trophies.
"There is only a little bit of girls in the class and a whole bunch of boys, but I kick their butts," said Morgan, who holds a brown belt in karate.
Every day, Morgan rushes home from school a little breathless, but eager to recount her day for her mother and younger siblings. She shows off her newest printing and math skills and says she already knows the ending to "Three Little Pigs," the book she is reading on her own.
But, often, the recounting is interrupted while LaRonda Fogle does pulmonary exercises with her daughter, soothes a stomach ache or administers one of the 40 medications the child takes daily.
As an infant, Morgan was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system and kills at least one young American every day. One out of 20 people carry the gene that causes CF, and three babies a day are born with the disease.
"My husband, Travis, and I had heard of the disease, but we had no idea we were carriers," Fogle said. "This is a symptomless gene."
Those are typical statements, said Rettaliata, the mother of two sons with CF. Awareness is improving, but education is still crucial.
"Not enough people know how serious CF is," she said. "We must work to improve the quality of life for children who are here now and to find a cure."
The Fogle family, "even all my aunts, uncles and grandparents," said Morgan, will be walking again May 18 in the relay at Glen Burnie High School, one of several Great Strides in the metropolitan area.
Many of Morgan's New Windsor neighbors will join the walk or donate money.
"The walk is extremely important because all the money goes for research," Fogle said. "I really need to find a cure. There is no doubt in my mind that there is going to be a cure for Morgan."
Doctors have assured the family that a cure is "in sight, but that means 10 years or more," Fogle said. "CF patients are surviving to 29 now, but that is not long enough," said the 28-year-old mother of three.
Although any child born to the Fogles had a 25 percent chance of contracting the disease, they have had another daughter and a son. When the children were born, they were tested for CF. The couple then waited a week before they knew that Kacie, 3, and Tanner, 1, have escaped the disease.
"I did not have genetic testing, just a lot of faith," Fogle said. "I wanted Morgan to have a brother and a sister."
Pub Date: 4/13/97