Remembering Alumna Emily Haager, Ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis

She inspired the surf community and others with her story

May. 7, 2010 By Jenna Bartlo

She was known for her heart and joyful spirit. She encouraged those who thought they could encourage her. And even after her death Saturday, May 1, 2010, her legacy will continue. Alum Emily Haager (’05) suffered from Cystic Fibrosis (CF) — a disease that she daily battled with 45-50 pills and 5 hours of breathing treatments which would help break down life-threatening mucus in her lungs. She pioneered an effort in the surfing community to find a cure for CF and became the face and spokeswoman for PacSun’s Pipeline To a Cure.

At age 27, she outlived many CF patients who normally don’t reach adulthood. Two years ago in an interview, she stated how thankful she was to finish college at Biola University, as it had been unlikely she would finish high school.

“The fact that I’m 25 and able to finish Biola is a miracle from God…that I couldn’t only graduate high school, but I graduated college,” said Emily. “I consider that a huge God thing.”

The many lives Emily touched mourn her loss, but as her family wrote in a letter as published on Transworld Surf, “she peacefully went to a place without CF, a place where she can run, surf and breathe without worry. Emily lived her life exuding love and grace, impacting everyone who ever met her.”

Her involvement with Pipeline To a Cure furthered awareness and development to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. She spoke at different events around California promoting surfing. Researchers found that young surfers with CF had significantly healthier lungs due to inhaling the saltwater mist. That discovery led researchers to develop a hypertonic saline solution, which CF patients around the world now inhale every day.

Memorial services for Emily will be held Saturday, May 8 at 11 a.m. at First Christian Church in Huntington Beach. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for contributions to be made in Emily’s name to the Pipeline To a Cure event. This year, Pipeline to a Cure will be dedicated to Emily’s memory.

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.

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