• Comment

Community rallies around fundraiser for cystic fibrosis

Posted: February 15, 2017 - 2:50am
Philip Jacobs (left), owner of Allegiance Ink tattoo shop in Evans, is pictured with James Mathis, who is raising money to run in the Augusta half marathon in support of Jacobs’ son, Max, who has cystic fibrosis.

A 1-year-old's fight against cystic fibrosis has sparked a movement of support in the Columbia County community.

Max Jacobs has become the face and heart behind a local fundraising effort that has brought in more than $5,000, to benefit cystic fibrosis patients and families, and ongoing research through the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

At the helm of the movement is James Mathis, a childhood friend of Max's father, Philip Jacobs, who owns Allegiance Ink tattoo shop in Evans.

Mathis has spearheaded the fundraising event, 13.1 for Max, seeking donations ahead of the annual Augusta University Half Marathon, which Mathis and his wife will run Feb. 26, on behalf of Max and cystic fibrosis awareness. For every mile he runs in the month of February, including the 13.1 on the day of the run, Mathis says he will donate $1, and welcomes anyone to match his donation.

"I run about 100-120 miles a month," Mathis said.

All proceeds will go directly to the 65Roses of Augusta team, an extension of an Atlanta-based charity, Miles for Cystic Fibrosis, which supports organizations that benefit local families affected by cystic fibrosis, and scientific research aimed to control and cure this life shortening disease, according to 65Roses website.

Cystic fibrosis is the product of a defective gene that causes a thick buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. The mucus clogs airways and traps bacteria in the lungs causing lung damage and eventually respiratory failure. In the pancreas and other organs, the mucus prevents the body from breaking down food and absorbding vital nutrients.

Max was diagnosed at just 12 days old, but to date has not had to return to the hospital, which typically means no less than a two-week stay, according to Jacobs, though he said it is only a matter of time. But Jacobs said he considers his family lucky, due to the proximity of one of only two cystic fibrosis clinics in the state being minutes away. Others, Jacobs said, are not so lucky and rely on the support of 65Roses locally and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, globally, to get children diagnosed with the defect the care they need.

"We live 20 minutes from a clinic, but if you've got a kid that lives in rural south Georgia whose parents are farmers that don't have insurance, they have to pay to get here, they have to pay for a hotel for the night, dinner, food," Jacobs said.

When Max was born, both Jacobs and Mathis say they didn't really know much about the defect, or any fundraising efforts. They soon learned about 65Roses, a fundraising organization, which was named for how a young child pronounced his disease back in 1965. From there, they learned that 65Roses had one local chapter in Augusta, started by a local mother with three children diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

"We have a huge community of cystic fibrosis patients because of what we have at Augusta University," Jacobs said. "There are a lot of them here that I didn't know. There are 1,800 different gene mutations, Max is the stereotypical one, but there are 1,800 different mutations of cystic fibrosis."

And for Mathis, replacing New Year's resolutions with goals to help others in 2017, running for Max was a "no-brainer," adding that Jacobs dedication to giving back to the community also inspired him.

"I didn't know anything about cystic fibrosis, until they had Max," Mathis said. "I started checking around and it brought me to the Augusta half marathon. My wife and I run like pretty much every marathon, or half marathon or 10k around here, but we've never ran for something. You always see people that run for something. It was a no brainer, it clicked in my head. So I called Philip and I said let's do this."

The group has collected not only monetary donations, totaling more than $5,500, but have collected other products donated by local businesses that will be raffled off at an auction the day before the race. Some items up for auction include, free mini sessions by two local photographers, a month of free personal training, yeti cups and gift cards to Twisted Burrito, Tbonz Steak House and Big Bo's BBQ, among others. And every penny benefits 65Roses.

But donating to others in need is a common practice for Jacobs and his business. Since 2011, when Jacobs opened Allegiance Ink, they have sponsored events ranging from turkey and gift card giveaways on Thanksgiving to contributing to local school fundraisers year round. In addition, Jacobs is a supporter of the Semicolon Foundation, for suicide awareness and prevention.

But Jacobs said his mission is to merely to help others in the community that helps his small business thrive.

"If we change one thing, whether it be cystic fibrosis, cancer or diabetes, whether it be one kid cheerleading or playing football. If we change one thing, that impacts everything we all do everyday, we win, and I think that's lost a lot of time," Jacobs said. "There is so much concern with a dollar bill nowadays versus winning as a group."

And to date, the fundraising goals have been set and exceeded twice, according to Mathis, who said that 65Roses Augusta team set a goal to raise $10,000 at the Augusta half marathon. And while the event is still two weeks away, their group has raised more than half of that goal. But they're not stopping there.

Due to the success, Mathis said that plans to continue the fundraising efforts for the Miles for Cystic Fibrosis organization, year round are in the beginning stages.

"This is like a test run," Mathis said of the charity fundraising event. "There are different locations that do it. My wife and I are going to be runing the rock and roll marathon in Vegas this year and there is a cystic fibrosis foundation up there too. So we are going to try and get connected with there."

Both Mathis and Jacobs said it has been a group effort in the community.

"I was blessed enough in life to be able to go to college, to have a good job to have a beautiful wife and kid and this for me is to kind of heal my soul and have me give something back to other people who actually need it and I am blessed to have the ability to do that," Mathis said. "It's exciting that everybody in the community is coming together and that something is actually happening and that's all the payment I need. It's not just an idea, it's becoming a type of movement. It's cool to see."

For Jacobs, the movement is a lesson in community responsibility that starts with individual action.

"If I can change my little corner, then I am doing something to make this little corner of our town be better and realize that we are not against each other, we are all family."

To donate raffle items, or learn more about how to get involved, visit 13.1 for Max at www.razoo.com. The half marathon begins Sunday, Feb. 26, at 8:15 a.m.

 

  • Comment