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In 1991, Marc and Margarete Cassalina’s newborn son Eric was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF). Less than two years later, they welcomed their daughter, Jena, who also received the same diagnosis. While Eric had few CF-related medical complications throughout his childhood, Jena’s case was considerably more severe. On December 4, 2006, at the age of 13, Jena passed away from CF-complications while waiting for a double lung transplant. Despite the pain, hardship, and emotional roller-coaster of raising two young children with an incurable disease, Margarete, and her husband Marc, always found a way to stay strong and committed to their family so that Eric and Jena could have the best quality of life possible.



Since 1991, both Margarete and Marc have been passionately involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. They have served as National Public Advocacy Chairs, National Volunteer Leadership Chairs, and National Leadership Council Members. They have served as Board members in two New York chapters and have participated in countless local, regional, and national CF events. Margarete, a prior board member of the Northeastern NY Chapter, now serves on the National Leadership Council - Special Events Committee. Marc currently serves on the National Individual Giving committee and Milestones III campaign, board member for 15 years on the Greater NY Chapter, and served as past president. 

Professionally, Marc’s 30-year Financial Services career has all been at Merrill Lynch; he has served as a Sr Resident Director and is currently a Sr Vice President leading a Financial Services practice that includes his son Eric.  

Margarete is an author and public speaker. Margarete’s first award-winning book, Beyond Breathing, is a memoir written after Jena ‘moved up’ to heaven. Her second book, See You at Sunset, is a fictional narrative that brings awareness and a human-face to cystic fibrosis. In her latest offering, Embracing the Beauty in the Broken, Margarete writes about positive personal development by giving the reader tools to live their own best life.

Marc and Margarete live in Milton, NY. Their son Eric, also living with CF, is married to Kourtney with a son of their own, Easton. Together, they have dedicated their lives to finding the ultimate cure so that one day CF will stand for ‘Cure Found’.