Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 28, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Alane Mills estimates she’s shopped for about six years at Helen Brown’s annual spring yard sale that benefits cystic fibrosis research.
She shops and it’s a way to help donate to a worthy cause.
Mills said she’s always looking for one item in particular: “I’m always checking for silver,” she said.
Mills is moving to Chicago to be closer to her son after living in Rowan County since the 1970s. She’s also retiring.
But even though she’s downsizing, she still has room to add to her silver collection.
Mills also shops for books to add to the Spencer Library. She’s a member of the Woman’s Club and they often gift books to the library.
Brown achieved her goal before Friday’s sale had barely begun. By the time the sale started at noon, Brown had made her goal of $100,000.
She said it’s harder on her, but she hopes her many volunteers will continue her work, which started about 15 years ago when her granddaughter, Anna Johnson, wanted to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Brown had a yard sale, and over the years it’s grown into almost a second job. She and husband, Ralph, have a basement and outdoor storage filled with items people have donated for the yard sale.
This is the 17th year of the yard sale.
Both of Brown’s grandchildren, Anna, 23, and 18-year-old Michael Johnson, have cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.
“It has been a huge undertaking. It really is a full time job. She’s great at recruiting people and the community is very supportive,” Anna said.
Anna said she’s grateful to the research that’s continuing and drugs that have been developed.
She’s seen the advancements in medical research and medications. Anna applauds her grandmother for her support and fundraising.
Michael recalls when he was about 10 and the yard sale was smaller. Family members helped then. Now Brown has nearly 30 people pitching in.
He’s seen some of the same volunteers return and has met some new ones.
“My mom has always been supportive,” said Stephanie, Brown’s daughter.
She’s offered not just monetary support, but emotional support and advice, Stephanie said.
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation pays for research and development of drugs, she said.
Donna Sifford visited the sale for the first time after her mother told her about it.
“I think it’s a good cause. Hopefully one day they will find a cure,” Sifford said.
Marie Wood has shopped for bargains at the annual sale for the past six or eight years.
“My husband, Donald, and I try to help in any way we can,” she said.
Wood is hoping to buy a dorm-room refrigerator. Brown didn’t have one, but she said she’ll call her friend when she does.
Austin Taylor was at the yard sale hoping to find some baseball cards to add to his collection. His sister, BreAnna, was there for toys.
It was their first time visiting and they shopped with their grandmother, Frankie Taylor.
Bea Stevens travels from Davie County to shop. She stopped by the yard sale for the first time last year and had to return. “Both to support cystic fibrosis and find a bargain,” Stevens said.
She said the prices are right and she said she knows the items will be nice and all electronics tested.
Robert Scott went shopping after hearing about the sale from the newspaper. A friend asked him to attend. He found wine glasses and continued to find other treasures.
“I like going to yard sales. My mom used to go when I was young,” he said.
His greatest find was when he bought a painting for $3 and said it was worth $200.
Brown will hold her second sale of the year in October.
For more information about Cystic Fibrosis visit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.