POTTERSVILLE Nicole Howe lost a cousin to cystic fibrosis about 20 years ago, and when her cousin Noah was born with it 12 years ago, she decided to do something to help. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections, obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food. In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond. Research has led to the discovery of the CF gene in 1989, the most important finding since the CF Foundation was founded in 1955, and new treatments are available and more are on the way, although so far, there is no cure. Howe started her Bowling for Breath fundraiser 12 years ago to raise money for the CF Foundation. We had 10 people that first year, she said. Now, we have tons of people. She has raised more than $50,000 over the years. Putting together a fundraiser is more than just asking people to come and bowl. I spend a lot of time on the phone, Howe said. I go to businesses for donations for raffles and the silent auction, and lane sponsors. She said that many of her business partners expect her each year. Theyre ready for me when I come in each October, she said. It is a family event, and Howe said her husband John always helps out as well. They have two boys, 12 and 16. Participants go out and get pledges before the event to bring in money. Howe said her CF fundraisers send all proceeds to the CF Foundation in the name of her cousin Noah, another cousin with the disease, Zachary Smith and a little girl in Whitehall, Sadie Davis. I found Sadie at my doctors office, she said. Shes the granddaughter of the nurse. CF patients require a lot of medication, and Howe said that her cousin Noah recently had to start wearing a special vest each night for an hour that actually beats his chest to loosen the mucus in his lungs. But hes determined to be a normal kid, she said. He bikes around Schroon Lake, he skis and plays soccer. He doesnt let it slow him down. He has to have his gall bladder removed this winter due to complications of CF. Howe said that her Bowling for Breath has raised over $6,000 in recent years, but this year, that figure was down to about $4,500. We had to change the date, Howe said. Zach lives in Warrensburg, and we get a tremendous amount of support from the town, she said. The winning field hockey team was playing at the state championship in Syracuse on the same day as the scheduled Bowling for Breath, so Howe moved it a week later. I think the fact that it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving kept a lot of people from coming, Howe said. But I want to thank everyone for their continued support and I hope to see it continue. Every dollar gets us closer to a cure, and I will continue to do this every year until there is a cure.