22:35 PM

Making A Difference in All 50 States

Lillian Stringer was a year old when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease that causes a buildup of thick mucus in the lungs and digestive organs. Now 10, the Edelstein, Illinois girl (north of Peoria), endures multiple treatments a day with a device that shakes her upper body to loosen and decrease the amount of mucus clogging her body. Until now, those treatments confined Lillian to a chair and attached to a noisy machine plugged into an electrical outlet.

But not anymore. Lillian was selected as the Illinois recipient of an AffloVest given away as part of Colton’s Legacy Project - 50 AffloVests in 50 States initiative. Former NFL player Colton Underwood is on a mission – in conjunction with Biophysics Corporation, maker of the AffloVest, with support from State Farm Insurance - to give away an AffloVest in each state to a CF Warrior.

The treatment vests are a vital part of daily life for a person with cystic fibrosis.

Colton - Vest

"It shakes their upper body and upper respiratory systems and breaks up the thickening of the mucus in their lungs. Everybody who has this vest normally has to be plugged into a wall. It vibrates and it’s really a harsh treatment for young kids and young adults. What the AffloVest does is it breaks free of all the cords and all of the tubes, and it’s compact and has a battery pack in it and people can walk around – they can brush their teeth, they can interact – they can have more freedom in their lives," explained Underwood.

The focus of Colton’s Foundation is raising awareness of and money for cystic fibrosis in honor of his young cousin who battles the disease daily.

After presenting the first AffloVest to an 8-year-old Arizona boy, Colton made a homecoming to his native Illinois to surprise Lillian at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois where Lillian is cared for by the team in the CF clinic. She was selected from more than 72 nominations, each of them deserving. With the vests costing upwards of $20,000, support from the company that makes the vests, State Farm Insurance, and public donations makes each donation special.

Lillian and her mom are looking forward to the freedom the vest will mean.

View Andrea Stringer-Vest
Andrea Stringer-Vest

"She does her treatments twice a day when she’s healthy, for 30 minutes. When she is not really well you go up to four times a day. That’s a lot of time to be sitting in your chair, hooked up, plugged in, not having the freedom to walk around, especially when you are a child that still wants to play. So this will definitely give her the freedom to get up, walk around. I mean with how quiet this is honestly she could sit in class and do her treatment," says Andrea Stringer, Lillian's mother.

"Might help me a lot better in class instead of having to go up to the office to do these treatments that don’t really help me completely," added Lillian.

32 states already have nominees for the AffloVests. You can learn more about the program, see the stories of the recipients, and find out how to support the program by visiting Colton’s Legacy Foundation.

Learn more about the cystic fibrosis clinic at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois.