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Exercising the gift of philanthropy at Keck Hospital

Nikki Adams, a certified fitness instructor with cystic fibrosis, was the inspiration behind a $10,000 gift to build a special fitness room at Keck Hospital of USC. (Photo/Katie Byrnes)

Certified fitness instructor and cystic fibrosis (CF) patient Nikki Adams wasn’t always in the best of shape. A little over a year ago, the 28-year-old Adams was an inpatient at Keck Hospital of USC when a friend suggested she become certified for group fitness instruction.

“I used to work in escrow and didn’t do much movement or exercise,” Adams said. “I also didn’t do my treatments often enough, so my lung condition wasn’t the best. My friend suggested exercising more to keep my lungs in shape, and she helped me get my certification. My first spin bike class was really hard, but I could tell it was good for me.”

The exercise helped: After a month and a half of cycling, her endurance, stamina and lung condition improved. This gave Adams an idea of how she could help other CF patients.

Adams persuaded her grandparents, Lew and Dorothy Webb, founders of the Webb Foundation, a Palm Desert, Calif.-based nonprofit organization, of the importance of exercise to CF patients.

She outlined how the foundation could help by creating a special exercise room for Keck Hospital CF inpatients where they could exercise while confined to the hospital. Thanks to that conversation, the Webb Foundation’s recent gift of $10,000 will make the room a reality.

CF is a life-threatening genetic disease that causes thick mucus to build in the lungs and digestive tract. It is one of the most common chronic lung diseases in children and young adults. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, approximately 1 in 29 Caucasian-Americans have the gene that causes CF, with a median life expectancy in the 30s, depending on diagnosis and treatment.

However, regular exercise can help patients reduce the rate of lung function loss, strengthen the heart and help increase healing from lung infections. Aerobic exercise provides the most benefits for those patients who can tolerate it.

“The biggest thing that has helped me with my CF is to stay active — whatever you can do, keep moving,” Adams said. “I want to encourage other people with CF to get out there and do everything they can to stay active and keep their lungs fully functioning.”

Dorothy Webb, program director for the Webb Foundation, believes that helping CF patients to extend their lives through exercise is a key goal.

“After talking to Nikki and the doctors and nurses at Keck Hospital of USC, we could see there really was a need,” she said. “Nikki has gotten such marvelous care there, and we wanted to continue supporting her.

“Exercise does so much good for CF patients, and we’re so pleased that we can offer them this help as adults,” she added. “It’s important to support causes you believe in, and I believe that anyone can give at least a little back.”

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