Rose Compass (USA, 30:28)

Directed by: Matt Underwood

Written by: Matt Underwood

ROSE COMPASS shares the story of Run for Roses, one woman’s 1,000 mile running pilgrimage from St. Louis to New York City to spread awareness, raise funds and share stories of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) in honor of her sister Katie Rose, who was diagnosed with CF in 1996. CF is a life-threatening genetic disease that causes mucus to clog the lungs and different parts of the body making it difficult to breathe. It only affects 30,000 people in the United States and currently, there is no cure.

When Katie was 10 years old, her uncle began coaching her in the sport of running. Any exercise, especially running, is hugely beneficial to those with CF - the pounding helps loosen up and clear the mucus in the lungs, as well as strengthen lung functioning. In an act of sister solidarity, Colleen decided to take up running too. She joined Team CF for the Chicago 2005 Marathon. For months she trained while fundraising for CF, and when Colleen crossed the finish line, she felt empowered in the face of CF for the first time in her life. Running would forever change Katie and Colleen's lives.

After 6 more years of running marathons for CF, Colleen decided it was time to turn a dream that had been percolating in her mind since 2006 a reality. That dream was called Run for Roses.

On July 21, 2011, Colleen waved goodbye to family and friends congregated at Kiener Plaza for the big Kick-Off as she began her 1,000 mile run. It was a record-breaking day of summer heat, but Colleen smiled through the sweat. For the first 3 miles, she was joined by Katie and a group of close friends. Though nerves were high, Colleen was ecstatic that her dream had finally begun.

ROSE COMPASS shares highlights of the 65-day journey, touching upon unforgettable days where Colleen was joined by complete strangers who had connections to CF and wanted to join for a few miles, as well as the days where completing the 15.5 mile quota for the day seemed almost impossible. In the climactic moment of Day 65 (September 23, 2011), the audience feels the rush of excitement as Katie and a close group of friends join Colleen for the last few miles of the journey until crossing the finish line. Weaving between clips of the journey and interviews of people involved in Run for Roses, the audience feels as if they too are along for the ride.

In addition to sharing stories from the road, ROSE COMPASS explores the deep bond between Colleen and Katie’s family. One of the most intimate points of the documentary comes when Linda and Jeff Caul, parents of Colleen and Katie, share the moment when they were made aware of Katie’s CF diagnosis and how they shared the news with their children. Linda and Jeff share their outlook on CF and how they chose to raise Katie no differently than their other children. Their motto was Katie could do anything, could be anything, as long as she worked hard and believed in something strongly enough. They were determined that CF would not hold Katie back.

ROSE COMPASS shares interviews of Katie and Colleen’s siblings Kelly and Glen. The bond between the four siblings is quite evident and there is no doubt in the audience’s mind that they would do anything for one another. You also hear from their uncle/running coach, as well as Katie’s high school friends. When Katie describes Cystic Fibrosis as “a part of me; but it doesn’t define me,” you can’t help but be impressed. Katie sums up Run for Roses so beautifully when she expresses how this project made her realize how much she is loved and that any dream, no matter how big or crazy, is possible.

ROSE COMPASS at its core is about dreams and overcoming obstacles. Every audience member, whether or not they have a connection to CF, will be able to relate to this documentary. We each have some kind of challenge in our life, but ROSE COMPASS shows that the way in which we respond to said obstacle is so much more powerful in affecting the course our life takes. The dream of curing CF instantly bonds Colleen to the strangers she meets along the journey who are connected to this disease. Through ROSE COMPASS, we see that Katie is this family’s True North, and that nothing, not even Cystic Fibrosis, will stop them from living a full, happy life with the steadfast hope that one day CF will stand for Cure Found.