Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month: Kennedy and Arizona Gymnastics

Meet the Headlee family: Tyson (Dad), Kirstin (Mom), Cooper (17), Kylie (16), Boedy (15), and Kennedy (8). They are a family who loves spending time together, exploring Arizona and traveling. Individually, their children have various hobbies and interests. Kennedy enjoys gymnastics, swimming, soccer, and basketball. Kylie loves drawing and painting. Cooper and Boedy are into anything related to music.  

Kennedy’s life took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) at just one week old. The diagnosis came as a shock to the family, who were scared and did not know much about the disease. To treat the disease and keep her lungs healthy, Kennedy has to take nine different medications every day and do airway clearance twice a day.  

It was the camaraderie and team aspect of Team IMPACT that drew the Headlee family in. They were excited for Kennedy to build friendships, confidence, and simply be a kid. Kennedy’s mother Kirstin has remarked how happy the family is that “Kennedy has been able to build so many friendships through Team IMPACT.” Through the program, Kennedy was able to connect with the University of Arizona Gymnastics team, who accepted her with open arms and provided her with a community when she needed it most. The Headlee family feels the team’s support every day. “Kennedy’s teammates are always asking questions to learn more about Kennedy’s diagnosis,” Kirstin said. “They have learned what she goes through daily and even done some research of their own.”  

The team has not only learned more about CF, but they have also gone out of their way to support Kennedy even when she can’t be with them in person. They send her cards and videos of encouragement during her hospitalizations and surgeries, and they have helped her feel more included and confident. Kristin recalls, “Kennedy has grown so much during her time with Team IMPACT. She has become more outgoing and is not afraid to try new things.” Kennedy’s experience with Team IMPACT has even inspired her to take up gymnastics and aspire to be like her University of Arizona teammates.  

The Headlee family hopes to raise awareness about CF and educate people on how it affects not only the lungs but various organ systems in the body as well. Despite the challenges that come with the diagnosis, the Headlees are grateful for the support they have received through Team IMPACT and the Arizona Gymnastics team, and they look forward to more adventures and opportunities to bond together as a family and as a team.