Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What is Crohn's disease, @CCFA_WI, and @TeamChallengeWI, and why am I running a half marathon with/for them?

Shout out to my teammate, Sunaina Talwar, for inspiring me in writing this post. I hope you don't mind that I took some direction from your informative and inspiring words!

Have you ever thought about running a half marathon (13.1 miles)? Have you ever actually run a half marathon? Have you heard of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis? Have you heard of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America? Have you heard of Team Challenge?

Prior to March 2011 I would have answered ‘NO’ to all the questions above. Now, three months later I feel blessed with the opportunity to be educated and able to answer ‘YES’ to all but the second question above, because I am currently training to run my FIRST half marathon. Not for myself, but for those who suffer EVERYDAY with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis!

I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with information about this new adventure in my life, why I am taking this journey, and I want to also pass along the chance for you to help me make a difference in taking strides toward the cure of these diseases on behalf of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.

Don’t worry, I won’t mind if you skim. :)

What is the CCFA?
The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to finding the cure for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It was founded in 1967 by Irwin M. and Suzanne Rosenthal, William D. and Shelby Modell, and Henry D. Janowitz, M.D. Four decades ago, the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation created the field of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis research. Today, the Foundation funds cutting-edge studies at major medical institutions, nurtures investigators at the early stages of their careers, and finances underdeveloped areas of research. Educational workshops and symposia, together with a scientific journal, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, enable medical professionals to keep pace with this rapidly growing field.

No wonder the National Institutes of Health has commended the Foundation for "uniting the research community and strengthening IBD research.”

What is Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Crohn’s Disease:
  • Ongoing disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract
  • Most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon
  • Areas of diseased intestine can be found throughout normal intestinal tract, more commonly referred to as “skip” areas
  • Affects not only lining of the colon, but also thickness of bowel wall

Ulcerative Colitis:
  • *Affects only the colon.
  • There are no areas of normal intestine between the areas of diseased intestine, in other words, no “skip” areas
  • Ulcerative Colitis affects only the inner most lining of the colon

What is Team Challenge?
Team Challenge is the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s endurance training and fundraising program. Through Team Challenge, you can run or walk 13.1 miles while helping to find a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two chronic and often debilitating digestive diseases that impact 1.4 million Americans.

On July 17th, 2011 from Napa, CA to Sonoma, CA I will be joining 25 other brave souls from Wisconsin and taking strides and running 13.1 miles towards the cure!

Why am I supporting Team Challenge?
You might be wondering why I have chosen this route, this challenge in my life. Well, I would like to take a moment and explain why I have chosen this direction and provide YOU with an opportunity to help complete my journey.

How it all began…

As most of you know, I’m not much of a runner. It’s always been on my Mighty Life List to run a half marathon, but I never really thought seriously about training.

Again, as many of you know, I turned 29 this year. One year shy of the big 3-0. It’s at this point in our lives that many of us reflect on what we’ve accomplished, where we are, and how close we’ve come to achieving our dreams and goals.

I’ve come pretty darn close.

I graduated from college. I became a missionary and spent a year overseas teaching English with my church. During that time I trusted God to provide for me emotionally, physically, and financially, and He certainly did so. Furthermore, He provided for me when I came back to the U.S. He blessed me with the best family in the world, who graciously gave me the time I needed to decompress and find my way back to a life in America. God provided me with an amazing opportunity to start a career in Milwaukee, and sent me even more amazing friends to welcome me here with open arms. I earned a Master’s degree on full scholarship and had the opportunity to; once again, travel overseas for work and study. I now enjoy a career in the nonprofit world, doing the kind of work I love, helping and training others to do the same in their own organizations, and completing all of this in an industry that allows me to give back just by showing up to “work” every day. How amazing is that?

God has been good to me. My life has been satisfying in a truly blessed way.

A few months ago I had been praying about what God had in His plans for me. I have several friends – those same friends God has so generously blessed me with in Milwaukee – who have trained with Team Challenge, and I knew it was something I needed to do. God put it within my heart that it was time to train and run a 1/2 marathon for those who are suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

I didn’t know what Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis were when I started this journey. I didn’t know anyone who suffered from these degenerative, and sometimes embarrassing, diseases when I started this journey. Since I started training and fundraising, however, I have met SO MANY who live with IBD every day.

Can you imagine having diarrhea every day for 3 months straight? Can you imagine going to the doctor every seven weeks for a painful and time-consuming IV treatment to counteract your symptoms? That's what people with Crohn's deal with. Normally, the immune system helps protect the body, but with Crohn's disease the immune system can't tell the difference between normal body tissue and foreign substances. The result is an overactive immune response that leads to chronic inflammation, sometimes even requiring surgery and removal of part of the bowel.

I am less than a month away from my deadline, July 6th, 2011 and 25% of the way towards my minimum goal of raising $3,000 towards the cure. Most people would be worried, nervous, or overwhelmed, but God has put this within my heart and I know that He WILL finish ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that He starts. I have NO WORRIES that this goal will be attainable. I have FAITH, TRUST, HOPE, and BELIEF that He will finish what he started and put within my heart!

How You Can Help
By now I hope you agree with me about the importance of this cause, making a difference, and having faith and hope – whatever that may mean for you in your life.

Please help support the CCFA in finding the cure for those with Crohn’s or Colitis with a generous donation of whatever amount your heart leads you to (THIS DONATION IS TAX DEDUCTIBLE). My deadline for fundraising in July 6, 2011 and if I don’t make it, I have committed to paying this amount on my own. It goes without saying that I can’t really afford that, but that’s not why I’m asking you to help. I’m asking you to help for my best friend’s father, who, before I started this journey, I didn’t know suffered from Crohn’s disease. I’m asking you to help for Katlynn, Team Wisconsin’s Honored Hero, who is now a teenager, but has suffered from Crohn’s disease since she was 7 years old. I usually give hugs, kisses and warm fuzzies for free, but just this once - and for a good cause - they’re going to cost extra.

To make donations simply go to this site

OR send in your donation check to me (email me or leave a comment for my address), PLEASE MAKE CHECKS OUT TO ‘CCFA’ and mail no later than July 1 PLEASE!


Once you donate I will be wearing YOUR NAME on MY JERSEY the day of the race, so YOU will be taking strides with me the day of the race as well!

On July 17th, when I run my first half marathon, my strides will be in honor of those people I have met during this journey who suffer from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. If you know anyone that suffers from Crohn’s Disease and/or Ulcerative Colitis PLEASE let me know, because I would be HONORED to take my strides for them as well!

I am excited to see how else God plans to use me to make a difference, and all the other people that He will put within my path, like YOU. I would like to THANK YOU in advance for your consideration, time, and your support towards finding the cure of Crohn’s & Colitis!


PS – for every $10 you donate, you will be entered in a drawing to win a Packers football signed by the entire Super Bowl XLV Championship team! If you’re a Packer’s fan – great news, right? If you’re not a Packer’s fan – just think of the hysterics you’ll cause when you tell your Packer fan friends that you’re going to sell it on eBay!


Current Couch Potato | Aspiring Runner:

Completing my first half marathon to benefit the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America will be a community endeavor. Won't you help me change lives?

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