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CSU football wife shows true 'grit' in daily battle with cystic fibrosis

Kim and Jay Norvell hold annual Grit Run 5K to benefit cystic fibrosis research. The first Colorado State edition brought out more than 300 participants.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Every day is a battle that no one knows you're fighting. For Kim Norvell, it's a different battle each day that she wakes up.

"I try to not ever complain about things or feel sorry for myself and sometimes it's kind of hard when it feels really heavy," she said.

Kim lives with cystic fibrosis (CF), a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time; but it's much more than that.

"So, it hits everybody really differently," she said. "For me, it's been my lungs, my digestive system, I'm diabetic, I have osteoporosis, arthritis, asthma, a liver disease, so there's many things that go on with it besides just the lung thing."

It also led to colon cancer in 2007. After a surgery to remove 13 inches of her colon, she's now been cancer free for more than 10 years.

Kim was diagnosed with CF when she was only six months old, and told she wouldn't live to see grade school. Now, in her early 50s, she's settling in to a new home in a new college town, as the wife of the new head football coach of Colorado State University.

Credit: @CSUFootball Twitter

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Kim and Jay Norvell have organized a 5K walk/run called the Grit Run in each of their college towns since he's been a head coach. The proceeds all go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help research therapies and a cure. 

"People might know what cystic fibrosis is but it's an orphan disease, so a lot of federal funding doesn't go to cystic fibrosis, so we have to raise all of the money," Kim said. "Hopefully there will be a cure in my lifetime, but we've come so far in a short time. I'm just so grateful for that."

She's also grateful for the support Jay shows with his public efforts, as well as his thoughtful and loving words he shares with her.

"If I didn't have that support from him, and if I didn't have the love that he gives me constantly...because I'm not easy," she said. "But just the fact that he loves me so much, he always makes me cry. When he talks about me, it's not often, but when he does, he means what he says. And that is everything too to me."

Jay said that she defines grit.

"She's the greatest example of fighting adversity," he said. "We talk about it in sports, but it's nothing compared to the level that she goes through every single day."

The inaugural Colorado State Grit Run brought in more than 300 participants, and the Norvells donated $10,000 of their own money to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

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