TWELVE YEARS ago, thanks to the efforts of two dedicated mothers, the first Cystic Fibrosis Debra Klipsch Walk for a Cure was held at Glen Burnie High School. The fund-raiser was the idea of Debra, a young girl with cystic fibrosis who wanted to raise money for research.
After suggesting the idea to her mother, Wanda Klipsch, she called another mother for support. Joan Rettaliata, assistant to the director of the Maryland CF Foundation -- and mother of two sons with cystic fibrosis -- signed on immediately.
The first year, they raised $1,800. Last year, the benefit brought in more than $52,000.
Although she remains an integral part of the fund-raiser, Debra is not around to see its success. She died in February 1989 at age 10, a few months before the second walk.
"We're doing it for the memory of Debra," Rettaliata says. "But we're also doing it for the futures of all our other children."
The 13th Walk for a Cure registration begins at noon May 21 at Glen Burnie High, and the walk at 1 p.m. Teams of three to six walkers are being sought to participate and solicit pledges for the event. The day will include a silent auction with items such as restaurant gift certificates and weekend getaway packages.
The event will include free food, music by a disc jockey, water games and awards. Costumed characters, including the Oriole Bird from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., will greet children.
This year's goal is $55,000. The Klipsch family -- which includes Debra's brother, John Matthew Klipsch, 17, who also has CF -- will attend.
Rettaliata is hopeful about advances in treatment and research, though medical advances were unable to save her youngest son. Two years ago, Damien Storm underwent a lobectomy, a complicated operation in which one lung lobe was extracted from two living donors. It was the first such transplant for Johns Hopkins Hospital. Rettaliata served as one donor and Lee Gooden, her nephew, was the other.
But a week after the procedure, Damien, 22, died from an infection. Just before his death, he had graduated with honors from Towson University. Rettaliata's oldest son, Dean Storm, 26, also has CF.
Library honors mothers
The North County Area Library at Harundale has planned a "Celebrate Mom" program at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. today.
The event, for children ages 2 to 6, will focus on mothers through stories and rhymes and give the children an opportunity to make a gift for Mother's Day.
Mother's Day meaning ...
Mothers are amazing people. Take mine. Raising three daughters wasn't enough for her. She loved children so much that she volunteered as a Girl Scout leader for almost 20 years.
And for the same amount of time, she worked as the crossing guard at Oakwood Elementary School. She often said the best part of her job was talking to the kids. As a teen, I remember thinking I would be a different kind of mother when I grew up. I thought my mother was too protective, too old-fashioned and too mean.
Now I'm the mother of a teen. Every week or so, I hear some familiar comments: "Everybody else can go," "You're too strict," "I'm not a baby anymore."
For the first time, I understand my mother completely.