WHAT IS AN HONOREE?
An Honoree is a Crohn's or colitis patient who provides inspiration to our athletes throughout the training and fundraising period. Honorees serve as symbols of strength and motivation, support and determination. They will share their stories of living with this disease to help people better understand why it is so important to find a cure.
Tyler has struggled with health issues since he was born. When he was three months old he had to have surgery on his intestines because they did not form correctly. Looking back... it seems that Crohn's disease was in his life even then. His first real signs of Crohn's appeared when he was having his tonsils removed. The blood work showed his inflammation levels were extremely high - that was just the beginning. Then he ran a 104 degree fever for a month while the doctors tried to figure out what was causing all problems. They found an abscess and had to perform surgery. A colonoscopy confirmed it was Crohn's disease. Each year since then he has had a flare and has ended up in the hospital for three or more days. Unfortunately, these last couple of years have been the worst for him. He's had multiple flares that have sent him to the hospital, and now he is using a nasal gastric tube each night to add much needed calories to help him grow. Despite all this, Tyler is an amazing young man who loves to bowl, play soccer, and hang out with his friends. He does a fundraiser each year which he says, "not only helps me, but everyone who has IBD - it's not only about me." He has been told he inspires anyone who ever gets the chance to meet him.
Natasha was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at 11 years old. After months of suffering from difficult, embrarrassing symptoms and countless doctor visits, Natasha was admitted to the hospital. With a diagnosis in hand, she expected to treat the disease with medications. Unfortunately, as is common for many IBD patients, the treatments were not working and the next several years were filled with numerous hospitalizations and surgeries.
Crohn’s disease kept Natasha from participating in many school activities due to pain, exhaustion and other serious symptoms. She often felt isolated. Natasha continues to struggle with her disease and has endured several painful and serious surgeries in search of relief. In the midst of all these ups and downs, she became involved with the CCFA. In 2009, she participated in her first Team Challenge half marathon and crossed the finish line in Miami.
Team Challenge introduced Natasha to a wonderful support network and provided a way to bring awareness and much needed funds to a disease that was affecting her life and the lives of 1.4 million Americans. Natasha has been dealt a difficult hand, but she doesn’t let that alter the way she lives her life. Now at age 21, she dreams of a cure! Until that day comes, she will continue to run with Team Challenge and support the efforts that will someday make this a reality.
Even at her young age, she knew her life had been changed forever. Her disease has impacted her life in so many ways. She hasn’t grown as well as her peers, she has muscle pain, and her body struggles to absorb important nutrients to help her gain weight. The medicine she takes helps her control her symptoms, but it weakens her immune system and causes her to get sick often which keeps her out of school and after-school activities.
Amira and her family have supported CCFA for many years and annually participate in the Take Steps Walk. Amira also attends Camp Oasis, CCFA’s camp for kids with IBD. Amira loves camp and has made lifelong friends there. She calls it her “home away from home” and is excited to be going back for her 7th summer.
Regardless of what this disease throws at her, Amira maintains a positive outlook on life and knows that her experience is making her a stronger person. Today, she is on a prescription regime that is helping her grow and gain weight. She is an advanced gymnast, has a lead role in her school’s musical and is an ambassador of the club at her school that prevents bullying. Amira has made sure that Crohn’s is just a part of her life, and that it doesn’t define her.