Cystic Fibrosis Can’t Slow Her Down

At an early age, her parents knew there was something wrong. Recess at school was more of a chore than it was play time. Without much physical activity, she would wheeze and become lightheaded, often coughing up a good amount of phlegm. She was taken to their family doctor to have a full check-up done to see if there was something they could do. Denise Farrar was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the young age of four.

CF is a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe which makes simple tasks that require physical exertion almost impossible. The average lifespan of someone with this genetic disorder is 25.

11998617_10204829847488729_1215722485_n Throughout Farrar’s childhood, she didn’t let the disease slow her down. No matter the situation, she pushed forward through the pain and shortness of breath and persisted to prove the doctors wrong. Where others with CF take life easy and allow the disease to slow them down, Farrar, now 22, persisted. Today she enjoys modeling, despite her struggles with her weight, and working on her car despite the physical demands. Her passion for anything automotive has brought Farrar to almost star status within the CF community. She recently completed a very labor intensive build of her 2001 Ford Focus ZX3 Kona Edition.

Many CF sufferers would never even think about working on their own vehicle because of the extensive amount of physical labor required to do just about anything, But Farrar had other plans. It wasn’t just a simple body kit, not a few simple ‘bolt-on.’ This needed to be big. She wanted to prove to the CF community that many things are possible, and at the same time prove to the automotive community that a young woman like herself could build a car right. Farrar decided to do a complete performance engine build and swap.

Her 2001 Ford Focus ZX3 was already modified with new wheels,  suspension, and window tint, but she was not happy with the 2.0L dual overhead cam zebec engine. After researching different engine options that came from the factory on various social media and focus community forums, Farrar decided to build an all new engine based off the 2.3L DOHC 4 Cylinder found in later model Focus ST’s. A simple swap wasn’t enough. Farrar researched and selected every part for the new engine including new pistons, new rods, and everything in-between. After more than a month of collecting parts, she proceeded with the engine build and swap.

11997496_10204829847848738_1220698080_nAbout two weeks into her swap, the original engine was out of the car, the new engine was assembled, and Farrar was in the hospital. Unconscious and connected to breathing tubes, the prognosis wasn’t good. She had over-extended herself and deprived her brain of oxygen for too long while working on her car. After a few days, she regained consciousness and was on the road to recovery, with the only thing on her mind being her car.

With the support of her friends in the car community, she had the drive and determination to continue her build shortly after returning home from the hospital. More determined than ever, Farrar completed her engine swap, and started the car on the first try. Tears of happiness rolled down her face as she heard her car’s new transplanted engine roar. After a bit of tuning, she drove the car from San Francisco, Calif., to Anaheim, Calif., without incident and had it tuned by the professionals at FSWerks. She took the Focus and CF Community by storm with her accomplishment.

The CF Community was proud and inspired that someone with the disease could accomplish such a large task, and the car community was impressed and inspired with the more than 250 horsepower that was produced by the naturally aspirated engine which at that time was unheard of. She continues to drive the car daily with pride and smiles every time she presses the gas pedal. The car is great reflection of Farrar. It’s small, loud, powerful, and easy to underestimate with just a little bit of roughness around the edges. Farrar’s accomplishment will stand for years to come as a testament of mind over matter and has rightfully earned it’s place among the ‘Ford Focus elite’.