BELFAST — After two years of virtual walks due to COVID restrictions, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is once again bringing the Great Strides Walkathon — the foundations’ primary fundraising event — to communities across the United States.

The event harnesses the power of people with a shared vision and encourages collaboration, team building and leadership, as steps are taken in finding a cure for cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease. It’s coming to Steamboat Landing Park Saturday, Sept. 10, with 8 a.m. check-in and the 3-mile walk beginning at 9 a.m.

“Bringing an annual event to Belfast is very exciting,” said Belfast Chamber of Commerce Operations Director Scott Smith. “This is our first year organizing a walk after 16 years participating.”

Smith’s daughter, Natalie, was diagnosed with CF soon after her birth. The Smith family and friends have participated in Great Strides events from Morrill to Bar Harbor since 2006. He is grateful for the opportunity to raise funds and awareness about a disease that impacts the lives of millions.

Family and friends have  participated in Great Strides Walkathons for, and with, Natalie for 16 years. Photo courtesy of Scott Smith.

“My daughter’s health has been up and down over the years with changes to medication and routines,” Smith said, “but continued awareness and raising money for research provides the opportunities for her to live a longer, healthier life, and that means the world to us. She is a beautiful, caring, artistic young woman now and I continue to be inspired by the goals she has for her future.”

Smith hopes the Belfast event will become annual and help achieve the ultimate goal.

“We hope this becomes a bigger event over the years,” Smith said. “We don’t just want to treat CF; we want to end CF.”

Walkers can register as individuals or teams. Donations to Team Bugg will also be accepted at registration. For more information, visit https://fightcf.cff.org/site/TR/GreatStrides/100_Northern_New_England_Nashua?pg=entry&fr_id=9128.