Lunch with Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell helps raise money for cystic fibrosis research
Coach Matt Campbell befriended a little girl named Charlie Hugunin during his first year as head coach of the Iowa State football team. The friendship resulted in the annual Lunch with Coach event, which raises money for the research of cystic fibrosis, a lung disease Charlie has had since birth.
The luncheon is hosted by Charlie’s Angels, a non-profit organization Charlie’s grandmother, Lynn Marr Moore of Kelley, started when Charlie was a baby.
“The main attraction at the luncheon is coach Matt. He’s been a tremendous support, and this is the fifth year he’s done this event — basically every year he’s been a coach at Iowa State. We missed two years because of COVID so our last Lunch with Coach was in 2019,” Marr Moore said.
The luncheon will be held Tuesday at the Sukup Endzone Club on the south end of Jack Trice Stadium. Check-in will begin at 11 a.m., with lunch served between 11:30 a.m. and noon.
Charlie will introduce coach Campbell, a short-but-sweet speech that has offered some gems at events in the past, like when she called Matt her best friend.
“Coach Matt will be our guest speaker. He will be available for photos, autographs and answer questions from the audience about the upcoming season. We will have several door prizes as well as a chance to win an Iowa State football for coach to autograph,” Marr Moore said.
The cost is $50 per person. Registration can be completed through the Charlie's Angels Facebook page and a link to the Eventbrite site, or contact Marr Moore, who will put your name on the list and payment can be made at the door.
“The Ames Lincoln Way Hy-Vee has donated everything for the meal, which will be pulled pork sandwiches, two different kinds of salads, chips, cookies and water, iced tea and lemonade,” she said. “Hy-Vee has done this every year — they have been our supporters every single year.”
Now 8 years old, Charlie Hugunin is more than a name on an invoice at Hy-Vee, where she’s treated a little like a celebrity, Marr Moore said.
“One time we had Charlie with us when we ran to Hy-Vee. She put on her little fake high-heeled shoes and her tiara and got her purse,” Marr Moore said. “And one of the employees asked me if that was Charlie, and pretty soon we heard over the loudspeaker, ‘Charlie is in the building if anyone would like to come say hi. She’s in her high heels and tiara.’”
The luncheon event will have a Christmas in July theme with the live auction of a Christmas tree, fully decorated with Iowa State ornaments. Lunch attendees are encouraged to bring new craft items, socks or cotton pajamas for school-age children, which will be donated to Blank Children’s Hospital, where Charlie goes when she needs hospital care.
At the Lunch with Coach event, Tim Hugunin, Charlie’s dad, will give an update about her medical treatments and her condition.
“Also, Cy is going to be there and it is a family-friendly event,” Marr Moore said. “Children under 12 can attend for free with their grownups. We’ll have some little giveaways for the kids when they come in.”
“This is going to be the best luncheon yet. Please join us as we continue to raise the needed funds for research or a cure for cystic fibrosis for our Charlie.”
Gala and bike ride are other Charlie's Angels' fundraising events for 2022
Other upcoming Charlie’s Angels events include a bike ride and a gala.
Saturday, August 6 is Pushing Our Pedals For Charlie. This year, the ride will start in the Cumming area on the Great Western Trail. It will be hosted by The Chicken, a restaurant on the trail. There will be live music and superhero actors.
The gala will be held Saturday, Oct. 22, at The New Northwestern Cocktail & Wine Bar in Des Moines’ East Village. “It will be very nice, and it will be totally different than what we’ve done before,” Marr Moore said. The event will include food, an auction and live music.
See the Charlie’s Angels Facebook page for more details about the events as they become available.
Cystic fibrosis researcher is optimistic about future of treatment
Charlie’s Angels has raised about $200,000 for cystic fibrosis research since it formed. Much of that money goes to the Center for Gene Therapy at the University of Iowa.
John Engelhardt is the director of the center and an Iowa State alum, where he earned bachelor's degrees in biochemistry and microbiology.
“I’ve worked in cystic fibrosis research ever since I was postdoc, working with Francis Collins and Jim Wilson at the Howard Hughes institute at the University of Michigan. So cystic fibrosis research has been with me my entire professional life,” Engelhardt said.
For the past 30 years, he has renewed the grant that first started as a grant of Collins, who left to be part of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health. The grant was responsible for cloning a cystic fibrosis gene called the CFTR gene.
“It’s been one of my most productive grants setting stem cells in the lung and submucosa glands in the airways,” Engelhardt said. “I’ve stayed in cystic fibrosis research. I’ve always been very close to developing gene therapies.”
His lab is collaborating with a company to conduct clinical trials on gene therapy vectors, and he hopes those trials will be done in the next year or so.
Engelhardt directs a national resource center that helps companies and academic labs use specific genetically engineered models to ask the questions that they have to ask to get the cures for CF, he said.
He’s also part of a stem cell consortium that’s working to identify stem cells in the lung for gene-editing strategies.
“This is where they would fix the mutation that’s in the nucleus of the cell rather than just add back a functional CFTR gene,” he said.
“Things are really super exciting now,” Engelhardt added. “Technologies for manipulating the genome have leapfrogged a decade of research with a couple of discoveries and I think there are a couple more discoveries on the horizon.”
The CF Foundation is doubling down on the effort to push forward on developing gene and cell therapies for cystic fibrosis, he said.
“I’m super excited about what’s possible for CF in the future. Lynn and her fundraising makes it possible because they help support us nerds who are in the lab,” Engelhardt said with a laugh.