Collin Kelley

Atlanta resident Liz Burns doesn’t have cystic fibrosis, nor do any members of her family or close friends, yet she’s raised more than $600,000 to help find a cure.

Burns, a senior national sales executive for Coca-Cola, said she was asked to take part in a fundraising event for CF nearly a decade ago. Always interested in giving back to the community, Burns knew little about the disease and its impact.

Flashforward to this summer and Burns is now the incoming president of the Georgia chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and chairing the 10th annual Chocolate! fundraiser on June 17.

“I had no affiliation with CF, but it’s become personal now because of all the amazing people I’ve met,” Burns said.

Her dedication to the cause led her to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver earlier this year, where Coca-Cola selected her to be a U.S. Torchbearer because of her passion for living positively and for affecting meaningful, enduring change in the community.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation doesn’t receive government money, so volunteers raise 94 percent of the funding needed for research and clinical trials. Burns said a new drug that should help patients with CF – an inherited disease that causes a build up thick mucus in the lungs and digestive tract  –live a longer life has just come on the market and three others are being tested.

“The average life expectancy for someone with cystic fibrosis has been age 37, but this new drug should help the live to old age,” Burns said.

In just the last few years, pre-natal testing has become standard practice for pregnant mothers to see if they carry the gene for CF. Burns said there are 10 million carriers of the genetic defect that causes CF and most don’t know they have it until they marry and get pregnant.

Chocolate! 2010, presented by FUZE, will be held Thursday, June 17, at Villa Christina in Dunwoody from 6 to 10 p.m.  The evening features two live bands, a specialty drink tasting, a chocolate lager and a chocolate cappuccino tasting, full dinner buffet and silent auction. Atlanta’s top bakers, chefs, vintners and caterers will provide hundreds of chocolate delicacies for attendees to enjoy.

“It’s just a fun, decadent evening of food and drink,” Burns said, noting that Canoe, Rathbun’s and Baccahnalia are just three of the local restaurants participating this year.

Tickets are $75 in advance and $85 at the door.  Burns said they are expecting 800 to 1,000 guests this year.

For more information about the event, visit and to find out my about cystic fibrosis, visit You can visit Burns’ Facebook page (Olympic Liz) to see photos of her trip to Vancouver and find out more about helping CF.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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