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Lavaca County man continues cystic fibrosis mission for those who can no longer fight

June 12, 2011 at 1:12 a.m.

John Frazer holds a photo of Brigitte Gillaspia who had cystic fibrosis and passed away in 2005. Frazer's seventh Annual Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Benefit BBQ Cook-off begins Friday on Frazer's ranch at Farm-to-Market Road 531 in Koerth.

KOERTH - Life is all about the power of one for John Frazer.

One woman, Brigitte Gillaspia, was what he needed to turn his life around, as well as the lives of many others suffering with cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system with a thick, sticky mucus.

"She taught me to stop and smell the roses," he said, smiling as he looked down at a photo of the woman who is still the love of his life.

Frazer and Gillaspia started dating in 2003, but she died of the disease in 2005 at the age of 24.

Since her death, Frazer has hosted a barbecue cook-off on his property in Koerth, a Lavaca County community.

In six years, the benefit has raised about $71,000.

On June 17-18, Frazer hopes to meet the $100,000 mark, which is his goal for 10 years.

The two were introduced through a friend. When they first met, Frazer had been at a bar, drunk, he said.

Gillaspia could not drink, he said.

He later learned she had cystic fibrosis, but that didn't change anything.

He wanted to spend time with her, so he immediately quit drinking, he said.

"She changed my life," he said, grabbing his cross necklace. "She always wore a cross."

The photo on the table stares right back at him. A 20-something-year-old Gillaspia in the photo had a sweet smile, fair skin and a gold chain with a cross hanging from her neck.

"I never used to wear a cross," he said.

In the benefit's first year, about 19 teams participated. This year, the cook-off edges toward about 50 teams from not only the Crossroads area, but also across the U.S.

The benefit is known for its tractor pulls. The benefit also has a benefit barbecue cook-off and games for children.

All the proceeds are donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-Gulf Coast Chapter in Houston, Frazer said.

"I think she would enjoy it," Frazer said about Gillaspia. "She liked to help people."



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