baby holding bags of coffeeJack — the son of UWindsor alumni Daniel Peck and Paula van Wyk — displays samples of coffee sold to benefit research into cystic fibrosis.

Partnership brews up front in campaign against disease

Three UWindsor alumni have joined forces to give the breath of life.

Daniel Peck (BCS 2003) and kinesiology professor Paula van Wyk (MHK 2008) have been working to build awareness and fundraise on behalf of their youngest son, Jack, who lives with cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition which can hamper lung function.

Together they created Jack’s Journey, a family team supporting research into the disease. They registered last year when Jack was less than one year old as participants in the Windsor-LaSalle Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History, but Peck found the fundraising a challenge.

“It can be uncomfortable to just ask people to give money,” he says. “That is when I wondered if it would be possible to sell coffee with proceeds going to charity.”

And the idea for “Jack’s Java” was born.

Jake Rondot (BHK 2001) and long-time friend Dustin Stewart have a deep appreciation of the Windsor community and for coffee. Wanting to enrich the coffee drinking experience with flavours from around the globe with a proudly local brand, the two formed the RŌ_ST Coffee Company, which offers more than 20 different locally-roasted coffees for purchase online.

Although Dr. van Wyk has known Rondot for years as a sessional lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology, a member of the University of Windsor Alumni Association Board of Directors, and a supporter of the Faculty of Human Kinetics, it took one more link to complete the chain.

“My colleague Jess Dixon (MHK 2003) let me know in the fall of 2023 about RŌ_ST and until then I had no idea Jake had a coffee business,” van Wyk recalls. “I reached out to see if this idea was possible.”

Dr. Dixon is pleased to have played the role of matchmaker: “I love seeing the HK family reach beyond the classroom and make a difference in each other’s lives and the broader community.”

Once they connected with Rondot, Peck and van Wyk sampled different coffee beans and roast types from RŌ_ST, inviting friends and family for taste testing, until they landed on a favourite: a medium roast of Columbian arabica beans described as having “a soft aroma, complex sweet notes of caramel and hazelnut, and subtle hints of a fruity finish.”

Jack’s Java is available in one-pound bags in a variety of grinds; order here. Proceeds from every sale go towards the Jack’s Journey team in the Walk to Make Cystic Fibrosis History. This year’s walk is scheduled for May 26 at LaSalle’s Vollmer Complex. Learn more or donate through the charity’s website.

Rondot says his company is proud to participate: “Dustin and I are incredibly honoured to be asked and able to support Jack’s Journey and the CF community with this simple extension of work we already love doing.”

Cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease among Canadian children and youth and there is no cure. Jack must undergo at least one hour of therapy each day, and more when he is sick — ranging from chest physiotherapy to nebulizer treatments, nasal rinses, and sprays.

He also takes nutritional supplements and medicines to compensate for his pancreas working insufficiently.

“It is not uncommon for the pharmacist to ask to confirm Jack’s med order with us because the prescriptions he has, and the dosages, are not typical for a one-year-old,” says van Wyk. “Research has already helped identify new treatments and extend life expectancies, but much more is needed to end CF.”

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