By Kinsey Gustafson
After a year that could be called busy by anyone’s standards – graduating with a masters degree in voice performance, teaching music, maintaining a popular blog, establishing a nonprofit to benefit those living with Cystic Fibrosis, and publishing her first book – Sioux Falls-based Ashley Ballou-Bonnema is ready to take on 2016.
How did you decide to start Breathe Bravely?
Ashley Ballou-Bonnema: On April 1st, 2014 Breathe Bravely was born. All in great hopes of exposing, not what makes me different, but what connects us all – the very breath that lives within every one of our unique voices and is filled with endless beauty. A blog shedding light on my life with Cystic Fibrosis.
Never did I imagine the response the blog received. I am still dumbfounded by the overwhelming support and endless words of encouragement. From the blog formed a passion to share my own story and empower others to share their own voice. With the selfless generosity, support, and help of many incredible people, the nonprofit Breathe Bravely was created. A nonprofit unique to itself that focuses on giving voice to CF. By launching it as a non-profit organization, Breathe Bravely can play a more direct and impactful role in raising funds that support life-saving drug development while building dialogue and awareness among our community. More specific though, and unique to our nonprofit is the development of programs that support CF research through the art of singing – lending itself to both physical and psychological benefits for those afflicted with CF just as I’ve experienced.
For those who aren’t educated on CF, can you tell us a little about it?
ABB: CF is a progressive genetic disease that affects primarily the respiratory and digestive system. The body produces a thick mucus that clogs the lungs leading to life threatening infections, scarring, and deteriorating lung function. CF also causes pancreatic insufficiency, not allowing vital nutrients to be absorbed into the body. Current life expectancy is approximately 38 years.
What do you blog about?
ABB: I write about my life and how CF impacts my past, present, and future and the beauty that fills every breath I am given. I write about my own journey of life in hopes that people are able to reflect on their own journeys – seeing that we are connected by the joys, heartaches, trials, and beauty that fill our unique stories. The greatest thing in life we can give one another is the gift of empathy.
To read the full article, pick up the January issue of 605 Magazine or click here.