On July 11, 1989, Colette Wendy Bleistine entered the world and was an extraordinary child. In 1990, at one year of age, she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Colette grew up battling this invisible disease, and in spite of her struggle, she lived life like no other!
She excelled throughout school. In high school, she was a member of the Washington Township Marching Band, clarinet section leader, member of Tri-M Honor Society (for Music), and she was on the Executive Board of the National Honor Society. At graduation, she was the recipient of five scholarships from a variety of sources, honoring her musical ability, her character, her skills, and her overall student success and academic excellence. After graduating high school, she attended Gloucester County College as a NJ STARS student and then transferred to Rowan University, where she was studying Public Relations. She was Vice President of Special Events for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). While achieving all of these honors, she spent much of her time at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia battling this disease. After her death, her parents were presented posthumously with her degree of Bachelor of Arts Public Relations, Summa Cum Laude by the President of Rowan University and Senator Madden.
In addition to her academic accomplishments, Colette spent much time giving to others. She was a volunteer for many non-profit organizations throughout the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area. Some of her favorite work included: Kids Alley in Camden, NJ; the Gloucester County Animal Shelter in CLayton, NJ; the Delaware Valley Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis; and the New Jersey State Organization of Cystic Fibrosis. In seventh grade, Colette began organizing a team to help raise money for CF Research. “Colette’s Cuties” participated in an annual CF Walk, and became one of the largest teams and fund raising groups in the area. Colette was instrumental in pioneering a new CF walk site at Washington Lake Park in Washington Township, NJ.
In March 2012, Colette was placed on the double lung transplant waiting list at the University of Pennsylvania. On May 21, 2012 Colette lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis. She was surrounded by her family and friends as she left this earth and gained her new lungs in heaven. Even as Colette was hoping for new lungs herself, she continued to think of others. A couple of weeks before she passed away, she spoke at Organ Donor Day at Rowan University and instead of being a recipient, she became a donor. Colette’s left kidney was received by a 30 year old man and her lungs and liver were donated to CF Research.
In order for the legacy of this dynamic and always inspirational young woman to continue, the family has created a foundation to honor her legacy of positively making an impact in the world. This foundation helps those in need and offers scholarships to deserving high school students who wish to pursue higher education.
One of her favorite sayings was: “Your problems are never bigger than your purpose.” (Herm Edwards) The family has made the Colette W. Bleistine Paying It Forward Foundation their new purpose.
I Can Only Imagine
“I can only imagine…
My first real breath with my new lungs
How exciting it will be
Not breathing through concrete
My new life I clearly see
I can only imagine…
As I walk, dance, or run
The sweet air flowing through my lungs
Tears of joy…let the come
I can only imagine…
Simply living, oxygen free
Independent, once again I will be
I can only imagine…
Keeping up with my peers
Relinquishing all of my fears
But until that phone call comes
All I can do…is imagine.”
By: Colette Bleistine
My struggle is invisible to the naked eye,
My spirit is unbreakable, That, I can’t deny.
My faith, family and friends are what inspire me,
To continue to fight my battle, So diligently.
A vessel of inspiration,
is what I wish to be,
Sharing my story of CF,
A “teacher” I hope they see.
Continuing to beat the odds,
Amaze the doctors, I do,
Never say never, I’ll fight this through and through.
My battle is invisible to the naked eye,
Yet to the world around me,
All they see…is me.