Los Angeles Times

Virgen: Klug shines at Pipeline to a Cure

There were several highlights, and plenty of examples of heroism and altruism at the seventh annual Pipeline to a Cure charity dinner to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Most would think the ultimate highlight came with the result that $1 million was raised Saturday night at the Huntington Beach Hyatt. But to me the best part of the night was provided by a 16-year-old feisty girl named Shelby Klug.

The Orange Lutheran High incoming junior has cystic fibrosis.

You can't put a price on the attitude she displays and you can't put a price on the words she delivered for the sold-out charity event.

"Life isn't that bad," she said in a comedic tone. "I have cool hair."

That she does. She also has a cool personality.

"I am fighting cystic fibrosis," she said. "I will continue to fight because that's what I was born to do."

The Pipeline to a Cure features the surfing community. Surfing is therapy that is beneficial to those who have cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.

Klug referred to her disease as a "genetic mutation," and called herself an X-Man, her superpower being the ability to swallow so many pills that help her breathe.

She pops up to 50 pills a day, she said, and also deals with an abnormal sleeping schedule to properly take in her breathing treatments.

She had me in tears and everyone standing to applaud her when she ended with this:

"CF can stand for many things," she said. "It can stand for cystic fibrosis. Courageous fighter. Or in my case, Chronically Fabulous. But thanks to all of you it will stand for Cure Found."

Klug later sang with the 80s cover band Flashback Heart Attack, which featured Green Day drummer Tre Cool. They sang, "Welcome to Paradise."

The same band played at the event last year when Social Distortion's Mike Ness was honored for his service with the charity. Ness' friend Billie Joe Armstrong attended the event. Ness played some Social D songs with the band.

It was hard to top that. But somehow, everyone involved did it this year.

It was truly an amazing night.

"It was a pretty magical night," said Judy Burlingham, the event chairman. "We are raising so much money. So many people are making themselves available for volunteering."

As I was interviewing Burlingham, Cameron Thieriot walked up to talk to her. He donated a vintage station wagon that went for $22,000 during the live auction.

Thieriot told Burlingham that he wants his son, actor Max Thieriot, to attend the next Pipeline to a Cure event. Max Thieriot starred in the movie, "Foreverland," in which he plays a young man with cystic fibrosis.

It seemed that everyone at the charity event somehow had a connection with cystic fibrosis.

I was introduced to Paul Motenko by Nanette McWhertor, who works for the restaurant owner. McWhertor's son played catcher for Newport Harbor High's baseball team.

Motenko started Pipeline to a Cure seven years ago to help raise money for CF because his 27-year-old daughter Stacey was born with the disease.

"It was the most devastating thing you can think of," Motenko said. "She was a five-pound little baby girl and she was so sweet and we instantly fell in love with her. And then we find out she has this disease. The doctors told us to love her and cherish her but don't expect her to live to be an adult. That's an impossible thing to digest. With the help of family and friends we got through that and we decided we were going to devote our lives to find a cure for Stacey and all the other kids with CF."

Motenko was grateful to see the event sold out and the money raised was the most ever.

"The first year we were begging people to show up and now we had to turn people away because it was 800 capacity," he said. "Every year it gets bigger."

Motenko's business partner, Jerry Hennessy, was honored Saturday night for his service with the charity.

"Paul and I are best friends," Hennessy said. "We were co-founders of BJ's and now we have Stacked. I would do anything for Paul because I know he would do anything for me."

Hennessy was also impressed with and touched by Klug.

"That girl is beautiful in every way, the outside, the inside, the spirit," he said. "You can't find a better ambassador for Pipeline to a Cure."

Even the band that Klug rocked out with donated to the cause. Someone paid $8,200 for a night with Flashback Heart Attack at a private event.

A trip to London/Paris went for $18,000. A trip to Las Vegas that included a private jet and rooms for six at Aria went for $13,000. Tre Cool donated an exclusive one-on-one drum lesson that went for $10,000.

How cool is that?

In addition to Tre Cool, the sold-out event also included surfers Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama, as well as Courtney Conlogue. Gabrielle Reece, Hamilton's wife, was also in attendance, as were Olympic swimmers Aaron Peirsol and Jason Lezak.

My favorite celebrity was Shelby Klug.

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