, Salem, MA

June 14, 2013

Up on the roof to raise money for a cure


---- — DANVERS — It’s become the Harrison family’s mission to reach new heights raising money to find a cure for cystic fibrosis.

Yesterday at noon, Brian Harrison and Keith Burgess were hunkering down, preparing to sleep on the roof of McKinnon’s Market, at 73 Holten St., for three nights — despite the rain.

The 13th annual Roof Top Retreat is expected to last until noon Sunday as the men attempt to raise $20,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The Harrison family’s retreats have raised more than $250,000 over the years.

Yesterday, Brian’s son, Sean, 19, daughter Erica Harrison, 21, and volunteers stood below at the entrance to McKinnon’s, accepting donations and helping out when the men on the roof needed something.

Brian’s daughter Nicole, 17, a junior at Danvers High, has been battling cystic fibrosis since she was 5.

”We are all very passionate about it,” Erica said of the annual fundraiser. “We involve so many family and friends that help out. You just see how kind people can get during this time. We do it every year, even though the weather doesn’t like us.”

Around noon yesterday, with the drizzle beginning, the tent was set up on the roof, but they were still trying to figure a way to get a TV up there so they could watch the Stanley Cup playoffs tomorrow night.

Cystic fibrosis, a chronic genetic disorder that affects the lungs, pancreas, liver and intestines, has touched the lives of two family members. Brian Harrison’s nephew, Patrick, died of the disease 13 years ago. About a year later, Nicole was diagnosed.

”It hasn’t been a really good 2013 for her, so it means a little bit more this year. She’s been very sick,” Brian said. “It’s a little bit we can do compared to what she goes through, what she has to do every day. Her day-to-day meds, medications and therapy, it’s unbelievable. It takes a lot of time and effort for her.”

Cystic fibrosis has been in the news lately after a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl, Sarah Murnaghan, got a judge’s permission to receive donor lungs from an adult transplant list. She had been hospitalized for three months with end-stage cystic fibrosis and was on a ventilator. She had the transplant surgery earlier this week and is in good condition. Brian’s wife signed a petition supporting the girl’s efforts.

McKinnon’s is always accommodating, Brian said. “It’s a family-owned business by two brothers, and they take this very personal,” he said.

To contribute in person, head to the Roof Top Retreat at McKinnon’s Market until noon on Sunday, June 16; or you can send a check payable to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, c/o The Harrison Family, 27 Garfield Ave., Danvers MA 01923.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.