“You would never know she has cystic fibrosis:” life-limiting illness can’t stop young athlete from succeeding

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

RACINE -- It was just one high school soccer match among many. Years from now, the players might not even remember who won. But they'll never forget being part of two schools coming together for a special cause.

Racine Horlick soccer player, Gabby Falcone, wasn't the first in her family to play the sport.

"There's six of us total, I have three brothers and two sisters," said Gabby.

She certainly had good examples to learn from.

"My sister, Samantha, played soccer, my brother, Nick, he played tennis and soccer.  Danielle played volleyball and soccer, and Mario played tennis and soccer," Falcone said.

Talk about an athletic family! Gabby Falcone's mom was a gymnast and her father was a wrestler. Their daughter's a difference-maker in every way.

"Caring and compassion are probably the first two words when you talk about Gabby -- on and off the field. Her passion for the game and love of the game when she's out there. And to understand what she's dealing with bring it to a whole other level.  Very inspirational," said Horlick soccer coach, Peter LaBoda.

Gabby wants to study biochemical engineering at the University of Wisocnsin. She's motivated by her 26-year-old brother, Nick, who's hospitalized in Pittsburgh with cystic fibrosis -- he's awaiting a liver and lung transplant.

Unfortunately, the Falcone family is all too familiar with cystic fibrosis.

"The first three have it and Nick was really sick when he was a baby so he was tested for it. Then they tested Samantha and Nathan for it and they had it -- and then they had Mario and Danielle and they don't have it, and then I have it," said Gabby.

In typical fashion, Gabby isn't thinking about her condition. She, along with many other students from both Racine Horlick and Indian Trail High School, went all out to help Nick's cause during Tuesday's soccer match between the two schools.

They had a penny war that helped raise $1,000.

"It's unbelievable. The support that we have from Horlick and from Indian Trail to come together and raise money for this cause. That is my whole life, cystic fibrosis," said Sue Falcone, Gabby's mother.

"With the school helping out with everything it really shows support. My mom has a really hard time, I'm sorry, and I feel really bad for her because she has to deal with the 4 kids that have it so it's really hard," said Gabby.

"It's horribly difficult. The best thing that could happen in the world for me, for my kids, is that they have treatment that allows them to live a normal, long healthy life," said Sue Falcone.

Sue and the rest of the Falcone family are fighting cystic fibrosis with every fiber of their bodies. They're also making a positive impact on everyone who comes into their path.

Kaci Schonert is Gabby's teammate and close friend.

"I don't know how she deals with the stuff she deals with in her life. I think if it was me I would be an extreme mess and she just seems to have it all together. You would never know she has cystic fibrosis," said Schonert.

Courage and humility run deep in the Falcone family, but they just want to be seen as normal -- in every way.

If you would like to reach out to Nick and the rest of the Falcone family, CLICK HERE.