Claire was born with cystic fibrosis or “CF”, a genetic disease that causes excessive mucus secretions and collection, especially in the lungs. In her short life, Claire has undergone dozens of surgeries and has spent weeks at a time in the hospital. This is not, however, what characterizes her. Claire is a singer, an artist, a composer, and a natural-born comedian. She radiates with a warmth and wisdom beyond her years. She has been called a “little Buddha” a “bridge among people”, and a “true old soul.” She is precious to anyone who has met her, especially to her mother, Melissa, and her father, John.
On April 13, 2010 after a relatively routine surgery, Claire became septic and within 24 hours, was in complete lung failure. Her parents were given the option of watching Claire die or putting her on a dangerous oscillator vent, which no child with CF at that time had ever come off of successfully. Her parents opted to put her on the high powered vent and into a drug induced coma so the doctors could try everything possible to reverse the damage to her lungs and her body.
What followed was a remarkable two-week journey of prayer, love and healing. The family was buoyed by an inconceivable amount of support from friends and family. While Claire lay in her coma, kept alive by the maximum amount of life support possible, her friends and family began to pray. Spiritual groups of every possible denomination worldwide were given Claire’s name or in many cases her picture, round the clock vigils of sometimes 50 or more people met in the hospital cafeteria and Claire’s parents and family slept by her side and in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for 17 straight days.
So many people were inspired by Claire’s journey that a public Facebook page, “Claire Wineland Love, Songs and Updates” , was created to disseminate the seemingly ever changing information. Within two weeks, the fans on the page grew to over 900, many of whom were other families living with cystic fibrosis. Out of this grew the desire and need for a foundation.
Claire came through this harrowing event inspired, passionate, and very excited about making a difference for other children and teens by sharing her experience, strength and hope with them. She continues to suffer many setbacks but maintains a positive attitude and believes this is the key to living a fulfilling life – despite being burdened with such a deadly disease.
Claire and her parents want other families to experience the benefit from the kind of support that they received and continue to get; hence, this is the motivation for the foundation. Claire’s experiences have catapulted her into a position of being a spokesperson and an inspirational model for people living with this disease. She has documented and created videos on how to enjoy life with Cystic Fibrosis and live life to the fullest. Claire’s Place Foundation is a way for Claire to give back and make meaning of what she has had to go through; the foundation is her way to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.