A rucksack full of hope. This is the journey of Paolo Previato, 59 years old, of the province of Verona, who left Rome on 22nd May in support of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation (FFC).
After having dedicated the Camino de Santiago to Francesca, Paolo returned to walk for Maria, a 9 year old girl from Valpolicella, born with cystic fibrosis.
The company, sponsored by the European Association of Via Francigena Ways, has planned a journey of 2,200 kilometres along the Via Francigena in about 85 days. Final destination, Canterbury, and then London with a great goal: to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for FFC research. "Last year I walked the path of Santiago from Fumane, where I live, in memory of Francesca, an adolescent taken away by fibrosis, daughter of a friend I met after coming into contact with the Foundation. This year I walk with the hope of saving the lives of those affected by this disease".
In fact, Paolo's journey began with a special stage at Maria's home. "Before arriving in Rome, I went to see this girl and her family. We walked and spent time together, it was moving - says Paolo – I’ll just have my rucksack on the road, and a bracelet made by Maria, a joyful and smiling little girl".
Cystic fibrosis is the most common among serious genetic diseases; it alters the secretions of many organs that, being more dense and dehydrated contribute to their damage. The bronchi and lungs are the most affected. Those who are born sick inherit a defective gene from both parents who are, without knowing it, healthy carriers of the mutated CFTR gene. To date, treatments are directed at symptoms and prevention of complications. Statistics suggest a median life expectancy of around 40, but these predictions are constantly improving thanks to the progress of research, which has recently enabled the discovery of drugs able to intervene in some types of mutation of the gene.
Scientific research and care are fundamental and Paul's journey is to raise awareness for this disease. Along the way, the walker will pass many Italian provinces and crossing these borders will help raise funds for FFC research. "It is an opportunity to group the various delegations of the Foundation through events (31st May in Siena, 6th June in Lucca, 21st June in Vercelli) - adds the volunteer - in addition, by traveling the route backwards I meet more pilgrims, we stop to talk and it is an opportunity to publicise the initiative".
Meanwhile, his journey in Tuscany continues, with new encounters and many friendships. The report is available online with podcasts on RadioFrancigena.com, on Instagram following ‘paoloprev’ and on social media by searching ‘Delegazione della Valpolicella’ and the ‘Fondazione per la Ricerca sulla Fibrosi Cistica’. Those who wish can join Previato on the road for a few kilometres and take some photos to share using the hashtag #ffcinspalla.
Some special pilgrims will be waiting for him in a few days. "My 4 children will come to do a piece of the route with me. The oldest of my nephews will come too, "confides Paolo. Added motivation to walk and contribute to research that helps lives.
Participate in the fundraising promoted by the FFC Delegation of Valpolicella on Facebook "A rucksack full of hope". For information and access to the initiative contact Francesca at 045/8127029 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the attachment below, of Paolo’s journey in Italy and the details of the project