Friday, September 18, 2009

Team Trevor Fights for a Cure for Cystic Fibrosis

By Barbara Leech
Staff Columnist
Christie Clifford Salema looks at life and motherhood differently than she did ten years ago. The change began for the Kittery mom of three with a phone call from her son’s pediatrician informing her that her then five-month old baby, Trevor, tested positive for cystic fibrosis.
“Our entire world axis shifted in one second,” Salema says of the fateful day in 1999. “What followed was a dark and ominous year filled with tears, fear of the future and feeling powerless to change anything.”
But from that fear, a power to change the future was born. Salema says after dealing with the diagnosis it became clear she had to do something to fight it, even if it was in a small way. Today, with the help of family and friends, Salema now leads Team Trevor, which since its inception in 2000 has raised more than $900,000 for a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF). In 2008 proceeds from fundraising and donations collected by Team Trevor, including small change from collection cans left at local establishments, totaled $101,000. That money has gone toward research, which over the last decade has produced amazing results in increasing the life expectancy of a child with CF.
Salema says that ten years ago, when Trevor was diagnosed with CF, it was described to her by doctors as a terminal childhood disease. Children rarely lived past their teens or early adulthood. CF affects the lungs making them prone to infection. Scaring from the numerous infections can critically impact the functioning of the lungs. CF also impairs the pancreas, disrupting normal digestion and the absorption of nutrients into the body. Over time other issues such as diabetes can occur.
In the last decade advancements in treatments and medications have increased the chances of children with CF living into their 30s or 40s. But this is thanks to the millions of dollars raised by the national cystic fibrosis foundation and families like the Salemas.
“It cost about $800 million for researchers to finally bring a new drug to market, so what we have done is just a small, small part of that…but it is our part and there are so many of us out there,” she says. “Together it all adds up and we are making a difference.”
Salema says she and her husband Durval did not know the success Team Trevor would have in raising money when they first began. She started after Trevor’s first birthday by taking part in the annual Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis walk in York, which raises money for a cure. That day, she says, she realized she had to do more.
“It is so much better to feel you have contributed somehow to finding a cure rather than succumbing to the depression and the ‘how can this happen to me’ attitude,” Salema says. “This does happen. And raising money for CF gives us hope…and without hope you have nothing.”
So Salema began to organize monthly fundraising events and Team Trevor was formed. Friends and family joined her cause and each year the dollar amount grew, with 100 percent of the money raised going to fight CF. Salema said it was only after the addition of her last two children, Cooper, 6, and Gracie, 4, that she has pulled back on the number of fundraisers because of lack of time. But for the last five years, Salema’s former employer, Oceanside Properties, which operates with Wentworth Charities, joined Trevor’s Team and began hosting a charity golf event each year at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine.
“I have never seen such amazing generosity and such a beautiful event,” Salema says. “It is crazy the help this brings us, because since they operate the place, the expenses are low and the proceeds are amazing. I can not say enough about the kindness of some people who help just because they can…it reaffirms one’s belief in people.”
As for Trevor, Salema says he is an athletic, happy boy. Though his typical day begins very early to use a nebulizer to keep his lungs clear, the Shapleigh Middle school fifth grader does not complain. Each day Trevor requires an average of 21 pills to help with digestion and absorption of nutrients. Salema says her son takes it all in stride.
“To date it has taken something close to 30,000 pills to keep Trevor’s lungs healthy and he understands this is for his health,” she says. “That is my goal as a parent…to keep his lungs unscarred so that the new medications that are close to being released can do their job. My other goal is to raise as much (money) as I can to help those life saving medications make it to market soon.”
For more information or to make a donation please contact or For information on the Annual Wentworth Charities Golf Classic set for Sept. 25-27 visit
Photo caption: Trevor Salema, 10, of Kittery, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was five months old. Team Trevor, a group lead by his mom Christie, has raised more than $900,000 to date for Cystic Fibrosis. (Courtesy photo)

102-Year-Old Nursing Home Resident
is ‘Back in the Saddle’ Again

Nursing home resident Betty Libbey was back in the saddle when her dream of riding a horse again came true at the Equest Therapeutic Riding Center at Spring Creek Farm in Lyman. An avid rider as a child and throughout her teenage years, Libbey, now 102, is officially the oldest rider at Equest. With the assistance of a mechanical lift and the able hands of Equest staff, Libbey was positioned onto a gentle Appendix Quarter horse named Dee who patiently obliged as Libbey and Equest staff members led them around an indoor ring and then for a walk outside. After the ride, Libbey celebrated her accomplishment with a champagne toast with family members who came to share in her dream.
A former resident of Eliot, Libbey currently resides at Sentry Hill at York Harbor in York. She recalls her father taking her horseback riding faithfully for many years and her passion for it never waned. Says Libbey, “Horses have always represented freedom to me. I wanted to be a jockey but women didn’t do those kinds of things back then. I can’t believe all this production today is just for me. This is a day I shall remember with great pleasure!”
Libbey’s wish was submitted to the Maine Health Care Association’s (MHCA) Live Your Dreams program by the staff of Sentry Hill at York Harbor. Live Your Dreams is designed specifically to encourage and help Maine’s long term care residents realize their hopes and dreams at any age, despite health challenges. MHCA member facilities submit requests to the program on behalf of their residents but ideas and wishes must be meaningful to the resident and come specifically from them. Examples of dreams are relationship-based wishes or lifelong aspirations like learning to dance, riding in a race car, riding in a hot air balloon, or going to a sporting event.
Dream fulfillment is made possible through a combination of long term care facility staff and volunteer support, corporate sponsorships, and individual donations of time and resources. This wish was coordinated by Sentry Hill, Equest, and MHCA.
Photo caption: Betty Libbey got her wish to ride a horse again fulfilled. (Courtesy photo)

Olde Woolen Mill Renovation Nears Completion

By Barbara Leech
Staff Columnist
October 1 is move in day at the Olde Woolen Mill building in downtown North Berwick. The $9 million renovation project conducted by the Massachusetts based Caleb Foundation, is nearing completion creating 40 unique apartments for low-and moderate income age 55 and older.
Debra Nutter, Executive Director of the Caleb Foundation, an interfaith organization that develops, preserves and manages rental communities for low to moderate income residents, says that half of the units have been rented leaving about 20 units still available. She says the final result of the renovation is well worth all the hard work that went into it.
“It really is an amazing transformation from the building we first saw two years ago, which had not been used for so many years, to these beautiful apartments,” she says. “Each apartment is different, due to the floor plan of the original building and some are so close to overlooking the river you could fly fish out of your apartment….not that I am recommending that.”
The Olde Woolen Mill Building was once alive with activity, producing woolen blankets, beginning with those that were made for soldiers in the Civil War. It closed its doors in 1955 and has been untouched except for being filmed for scenes in the 1995 film Jumanji.
Nutter says the Caleb Foundation found several big challenges in this project, buying the dilapidated structure for $960,000 with the hopes that they could meet the costly demands of renovation.
“It was in horrible condition. Trees were growing up through the floor and it really needed a complete gutting,” she said. “It seems like a miracle to see it looking as it does now, preserved and renovated. It is just beautiful.”
The apartments have been constructed in the shell of the historic building, each fitting their own niche in the original architectural design. This is why no two units are identical. Original brickwork remains and molding and exposed beams highlight each unit as well as floor to ceiling windows, with many units overlooking the Great Works River.
The criteria for qualifying to rent one of the units is being 55 and older and making no more than $39,000 a year. Rental is being offered starting at $629 to $829 a month, heat included. According to Kim Eastman, who heads up qualifying tenants in the application process, income and assets for the past three years have to be verified. Though the building is intended for those 55 and over, parents over 55 with children under 18 are invited to apply. The point is to help provide a safe, comfortable home for low- to moderate income people.
“I started out working with my dad on projects such as this thirty years ago,” Nutter says of the Caleb Foundation. “We became non-profit fifteen years ago and we search for projects like this, some that nobody else would take on and hope we can help make a difference in that community.”
The foundation, according to their website, was named after a biblical character named Caleb, who was unafraid of challenges, obstacles and overwhelming odds. Caleb’s determination and sense of purpose enabled him to see opportunity where others saw only difficulty.
One of the difficulties encountered with the Olde Woolen Mill renovation project was finding funding for the $9 million needed to complete the plans.
The Northern New England Housing Investment Fund purchased nearly $2 million in tax credits. TD BankNorth pur-chased a combined total of $3.6 million in two different tax credits available for low income housing and historic renovation, and Maine State Housing Authority gave a subsidy of $1.3 million.
“We had a number of investors that came along and bought tax credits that took care of more than half the projected costs,” she said. “The remainder, about $1.5 million, we have in a low interest loan. Thankfully it all came together.”
For more information about the Olde Woolen Mill, call (207) 282-7177. To learn more about the Caleb foundation visit
Photo caption: October 1 is move in day at the Olde Woolen Mill building in downtown North Berwick. (Courtesy photo)