Second-year Ryan Randazzo is among the minority of students living in a single room on campus. Although he lives in a suite with several others, his loud treatments and coughing require him to live alone.
His living situation is just one element of his life at SUNY New Paltz affected by his Cystic Fibrosis; another is how he walks to class — he has to hold his breath to get there.
“I can’t be around smoke,” Randazzo said. “I hold my breath and run by Humanities.”
Randazzo has Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes a thick mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tracks. He started the Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Club at SUNY New Paltz with the help of one of his suitemates to educate people about his disease and to help raise money for research.
Prior to meeting Randazzo, Cecilia Stein, a second-year international relations major, said she had no knowledge of the disease. But after viewing a slideshow during the first meeting, she said she felt more informed.
Second-year international relations major Alexander Elmasri agreed that the first meeting of the club was especially informative because of a video that Randazzo’s sister made about Randazzo living with Cystic Fibrosis at college was shown.
Randazzo said his sister was unable to go away to school because of her own experience with Cystic Fibrosis, so the video offered a different perspective on the experience.
As a student, Randazzo is also involved in other extra curricular activities such as rugby. He serves as vice president of the rugby team, even though he said he always gets sick after games due to dehydration.
“I technically can’t play,” Randazzo said. “My doctors don’t know I do.”
However, he said his doctors do encourage him to stay fit; this is one doctor’s order that he has no problem complying with.
The Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Club aims to promote themselves and awareness of the disease on campus by hosting events like the 5K run they held on the Old Main Quad on Sunday, April 15. Randazzo said they provided brochures for participants to learn about the illness and sold bracelets to earn money to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“There are so few people with the disease that there’s not a lot of research being done,” Randazzo said. “All of the money that the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation gets is from people like us.”
According to their website, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation aims to fund research on drugs that can be used to fight the disease, to help those who suffer from the disease and to find a cure for it.
Randazzo said he grew tired of explaining his disease to people he met, so he began carrying around a page in his wallet explaining his illness.
He hopes his club will eliminate the need to carry a page in his wallet ever again.