Meet Conlee

Zanesville, Ohio – The Lea Marie Faraone Foundation (LMFF), a Maryland-based nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of young individuals fighting chronic illnesses, surprised 6-year-old Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patient and Zanesville, Ohio resident, Conlee Handshy with an AffloVest on Wednesday, May 5.

Conlee was diagnosed with CF when he was 13 days old and is a patient at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus under lead physician, Dr. Lisa Ulrich. LMFF’s donation to Conlee during CF Awareness Month is part of the organization’s “Fly Me to the Moon” grant program that provides medical equipment and resources needed for those with chronic illnesses so they can maintain their healthcare to its highest standards and improve their quality of life.

An AffloVest, a product developed by the Austin, Texas-based, International Biophysics Corporation, is the first battery-operated High Frequency Chest Wall Oscillation (HFCWO) therapy that let patients with CF, bronchiectasis, and neuromuscular diseases receive state-of-the-art airway clearance therapy on the go. All AffloVests are designed to deliver seamless mobility, without the restriction of bulky hoses and generators found in other therapies to enhance the well-being for patients with neuromuscular and respiratory diseases.

The vest will make daily treatments easier for Conlee and allow him to receive his therapy outside the home giving him more freedom. LMFF partnered with AffloVest to provide the vest and received assistance from Nationwide Children’s Hospital to prescribe the therapy device for Conlee. The surprise donation took place at the Handshy’s home in Zanesville.

Representatives from LMFF, AffloVest, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital were onsite and via Zoom video to present the therapy vest. “We are thrilled to be able to provide Conlee with an AffloVest to ease his CF treatments and improve his quality of life,” said Laura O’Donnell-Faraone, Director and Co-Founder of LMFF.

“Nationwide Children’s Hospital helped us identify the perfect recipient, and AffloVest continues to be a great partner of our organization. We are beyond excited to watch Conlee as he grows, and we are certain that his new AffloVest will give him the freedom he needs to be just like any other child his age.” The Lea Marie Faraone Foundation was founded in December 2018 by the Faraone (pronounced, Fah-Rone) family after the passing of their 28-year-old daughter Lea Marie Faraone due to complications from CF.

Lea worked as an infusion nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and also fell in love with advocacy work, particularly for those battling chronic illnesses. She worked and volunteered with the Maryland Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, where she served as a national ambassador for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Great Strides Campaign. “I personally watched Lea’s story on social media and listened to all of her podcasts,” commented Conlee’s mother, Kristina Handshy.

“She was such an inspiration to me. I was so inspired watching her share her ability to do IVs on the go. She made me see that even though my son is only 5, that we can be like her and not be scared to share with people what we are going through.”

Lea felt strongly that since all individuals fighting chronic illness might not see a cure in their lifetime, that there should be work done to help their quality of life now.