0906 RB Claire

Claire Wineland

Claire Wineland, a 21-year-old Redondo Union High School graduate who became a YouTube star by sharing her struggles with cystic fibrosis died on Sunday following a double-lung transplant.

Wineland’s death quickly became national news on Monday as she touched the lives of countless numbers with her video blogs and media interviews. In the South Bay beach cities, where Wineland lived, her death was felt especially hard.

Earlier this year was to be the fourth Glow Ride, a fund-raiser Wineland started through her Claire’s Place Foundation where participants ride through the night on bicycles with fluorescent lights. Proceeds go toward families dealing with cystic fibrosis.

When Wineland learned she would receive a double lung transplant, the Glow Ride this year became an online fundraiser instead.

Following a successful transplant surgery at UC San Diego Medical Center, Wineland was recovering when she suffered a massive stroke on Aug. 26 caused by a blood clot, according to the Claire’s Place Foundation.

“After a week of intensive care and various life saving procedures, it became clear that it was Claire’s time to go,” read a statement from the foundation. 

Wineland was taken off life support Sunday. Her final video post came on Aug. 12 in which she spoke about her fundraising efforts.

“I keep trying to make a full video about the whole fundraising process and I get really choked up and overwhelmed because there is so much I want to say and there’s no way to articulate what you guys have done for me,” she said. “Everything I say doesn’t sound like enough.”

Stacey Armato, a councilmember in Hermosa Beach, whose 3-year-old son Massimo has cystic fibrosis and knew Wineland and her family well said she “stole everyone’s heart.”

“She had such a great personality and honesty about  her,” Armato said. “She makes people want to listen and empathize and truly appreciate what they have.”

Armato said she wasn’t surprised when Wineland’s story gained national attention.

“Claire is such an inspiration and so raw and honest and open to discussing such a serious issue of her dying and struggling with this genetic fatal disease,” she said.

Redondo Beach councilmember Christian Horvath, who met Wineland twice and participated in her annual Glow Ride, called her an “inspiration to all.”

“The world may be a little less brighter today, but I believe her spirit and legacy will glow for years to come,” Horvath said.

In the United States more than 30,000 people live with cystic fibrosis and more than 70,000 have the condition worldwide, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The disease creates a mucus buildup that affects mostly the lungs, but also other organs, which makes it difficult to breath.

Armato said the moment she heard about Wineland’s death, she committed to make sure her passion and her work are not forgotten.

“She’s pretty well known for a phrase: Death is inevitable. Living a life we can be proud of is something we can control,” Armato said. “I think she was able to deliver that message so well and inspire so many people. I truly believe that the people who know of Claire and know of her story are better people.”

Wineland’s struggle with cystic fibrosis was well documented, providing a direct look at a debilitating disease that few people ever see who are not directly affected. She used an oxygen tank to breath and received multiple  treatments per day to shake out the mucus in her lungs.

“At the same time, the fact she was going through all that and still managed to give back so passionately is so remarkable,” Armato said. “It shows how special she is.”

Steve Collins, a partner in Hermosa Cyclery who knew the family and worked on the Glow Ride, said the event was beautiful. The first year, in 2014, Collins recalled Wineland leading the parade of glowing bicycles from Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach and back on a pedicab.

“She was charismatic, for sure, definitely way above the confines of her illness,” Collins said. “She was true to her message of inspiring people to rise above their conditions.”

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to Claire’s Place Foundation, which will continue to upholding Wineland’s legacy by assisting Cystic Fibrosis families in need.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to Claire’s Place Foundation, which will continue to upholding Wineland’s legacy by assisting Cystic Fibrosis families in need.

Contact David Rosenfeld at David.Rosenfeld@TBRnews.com, or you can follow him on Twitter @RosenfeldReport.

Digital Editor

David has been working as a professional journalist for nearly 20 years in newspapers, magazines and websites. He's covered murder trials, interviewed governors and presidential candidates and once did a flip in a bi-plane for a story assignment.

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