Big strides for cure

At first glance, seven-month-old Benjamin McLean looks just like any other healthy baby.

However six months ago he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.

The Bacchus Marsh baby takes a cocktail of medication before every feed and spends 30-minutes each morning and night doing physiotherapy.

His parents, Virginie and Angus, said they couldn’t believe their son was diagnosed with the genetic disorder so soon after he was born.

“Ben is our first child, he was born in April and was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis through the heel prick test, which was taken in the hospital 48-hours after his birth,” Virginie said.

“When we were called in to be told I thought – you must have made a mistake, he is fine”.

The condition, which affects the lungs, airways and digestive system, is the most common, life-shortening chronic illness affecting young Australians.

Virginie, who knew little to nothing about the disease prior to the diagnosis, said she had since devoted her time to researching as much information as possible.

“It’s very important for Ben to be healthy and active, which is obviously a little difficult at this stage considering he can’t even crawl yet, but with age and regular physiotherapy it will be easier down the track,” she said.

“Staying active is good for his lungs, so we decided to set a good example early by jumping on board the Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser – Great Strides”.

The annual fundraiser is a fun run and walk that raises awareness and funds for Cystic Fibrosis organisations around Australia.


‘Team Big Ben’, which consisted of 28 people and one dog, competed in the four-kilometre run and walk on Sunday (November 8) at the Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens, and was awarded the fastest team of the day.

“It started with me saying, I’ll set a good example and run, then my Parents Group said they would walk and from there it just snowballed,” Virginie said.

“We had people from Bacchus Marsh and Ballan, both friends, family and strangers, it was amazing how many people said they would do more than just donate”.

Virginie said the team had decided to set an initial fundraising goal of $1,500, however in a short time their hopeful tally had already doubled.

“We are at $4,500 now, and donations are still trickling in, so we are thrilled,” she said.

“It has just been so great to have so many friends, family and even complete strangers say ‘look, we will jump in and help you’. Obviously the money is really important but it’s also about awareness because unfortunately people look at a child with Cystic Fibrosis and they don’t realise how serious it is”.

‘Team Big Ben’, who is currently sitting second on the Cystic Fibrosis fundraising leader board, is still taking donations until December 1.

To donate, visit

First appeared in The Moorabool News 

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