When Brian and Andrea Boman welcomed their first daughter, Hadley, nearly 11 years ago, they were unaware of the medical diagnosis they would soon become very familiar with — cystic fibrosis.
Causing persistent lung infections and limiting the ability to breathe over time, cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects approximately 30,000 Americans. Among those affected are the Bomans' daughters, Hadley and Harper, which prompted the Burrton family to get active in raising awareness (and funds) for CF.
After Hadley was born, the Bomans started participating in the Wichita Great Strides Walk fundraiser to help the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation — as CF research is not federally funded. With the help of a few other efforts (placing donation jars at local business, putting on a bake sale, etc.), the Bomans raised about $10,000 a year for the foundation. When the local chapter approached them about working to bring in more funds, a seed was planted.
"That kind of sparked the idea that 'well, is there something else that we could do that would raise some more money?' We thought, 'well if we could just get maybe 100 people to come to a dinner and an auction type event, maybe we could do that,'" Andrea said.
With that, the Boman Bash was born. The not-quite-annual event started with modest goals — with the Bomans hoping to bring in an additional $10,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in its first year. The family was blown away by the support shown, with 600 people attending and $60,000 raised when all was said and done.
Starting in Burrton, the Bomans — who have seen support come from both Harvey and Reno counties — have rotated the host site for the event each year. For the second year, the Boman Bash was held at Mt. Hope and brought in another $80,000 for the cause.
Not only has support come in the form of people turning out for the event, but Andrea noted donations of food and auction items have helped make sure as much money as possible from the Boman Bash goes to cystic fibrosis research — which makes that buy-in from the community all the more meaningful.
"It's been amazing. It's one of those things that doesn't affect very many people, but people have jumped on board with us and are willing to do anything they can to help us out," Andrea said. "I'm just blown away that people are that generous and that giving."
Knowing that CF is something their daughters will have to deal with the rest of their lives, there was a very personal reason for the Bomans to get involved in fundraising efforts.
Once the Bomans started their work with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, though, it became about more than that. Realizing just how crucial those funds are, they are happy to keep the Boman Bash going — given what it has become.
"This is the biggest fundraiser for the state of Kansas for the CF Foundation. This is the largest third-party event," Andrea said. "I've had people from the national CF office call me to thank me for what we're doing. They're very excited and very helpful and aware."
"We could sit back and let somebody else do fundraisers or hope that they would," Andrea said, "but now we can say that we did everything in our power to make sure that there was a future for people with CF."
Son Wray Ranch (west of Newton) will host this year's Boman Bash on March 23 and the Bomans are expecting another big turnout.
Proud just to see the response to the Boman Bash each year, Andrea said that kind of support of a charitable cause always pays off in the long run and the Bomans are happy to keep up the fight to fund CF research and future breakthroughs.
"Any kind of volunteer work or something of this nature, even if it was a smaller thing, it always has big rewards in the end," Andrea said. "You just feel good about what you've done, that you've done something to help somebody else who maybe couldn't do it and it's gonna have a lasting impact on the CF community."
Monetary donations for the Boman Bash are still being accepted. For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.