WHAT IS AN HONOREE?
An Honoree is someone who provides inspiration to our athletes throughout the training and fundraising period. Honorees serve as symbols of strength and motivation, support and determination. An Honoree is someone who currently is being treated for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Each of our TEAM CHALLENGE participants is matched up with an Honoree. Honorees have the unique opportunity to connect with individuals who have committed themselves to raising funds for the fight against Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They will share their strength and courage with participants who are training to complete their endurance event.
When participants join TEAM CHALLENGE, they commit to many months of training and fundraising before completing a half marathon. They are not only motivated by their own personal fitness goals, but are truly inspired by the bravery and fortitude of each Honoree.
MEET OUR HONOREES!
GRANT HENRY - GREATER LOS ANGELES
It started when I was 23 and graduated from the University of Arizona. I was the epitome of health. Then, in an instant, my life completely changed.
To save you from the gruesome details, I bled a lot. I will forever remember the night my Mom took me to the ER, and I screamed at her to pull over the car. We were minutes from the hospital, but I couldn’t make it. I opened the door, and everything went black…
I woke up in a hospital bed and was told that I had ulcerative colitis after my first of soon-to-be-many colonoscopies. I had no idea what that meant. I would not accept that I was sick. Two years later, three extended stays at the hospital, and a dissipating mind and body made me realize that it was time for a change. I was sick! I could either spend the rest of my life in and out of hospitals or alter my outlook on life. I chose the latter.
I have made it a mission to never let me illness stand in my way. I joined Team Challenge, the endurance program for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), to fundraise for the foundation and train for a half marathon. I finished the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon with Team Challenge in 2012!
I have achieved things that I would have never attempted if it were not for ulcerative colitis. Things that I used to say, “I can’t” to are now replaced with “I can and I will!” I want to encourage others to push themselves, so I am continuing my adventure with Team Challenge to spread awareness about the disease and support the runners and walkers from the Los Angeles team.
MASON DELYEA - ORANGE COUNTY
It was a bleak morning when my parents registered me for an urgent colonoscopy, a procedure that would have us home by the afternoon. We were quickly told how critically ill my little six-year-old body was, as the doctor admitted me to CHOC. For the next nine days I lived in a hospital room listening to medical terms, drugs, side effects, and prognosis, not understanding a lick of it. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. There is no cure. I will forever live with the limitations of this disease, but it will never define me. I am Mason Delyea.
If you know me, then you know I don’t behave like a chronically ill kid. I’m a typical teenager on the verge of teenagehood. I’m active in lacrosse, strumming on my guitar, and sketching or painting whatever my hands guide me to. You might know I have an awesome support network overflowing with family, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, mentors, church counselors, and other patients. You might know when I am “flaring” that I need to have a map of my environment and circle all the restrooms. That I don’t trust my body enough to travel further than a mile or two from home. That I quit baseball because it hurt to run. That I will smile through the pain, even though I am house bound. You might know that I have been in the longest remission since I switched to Cedars Sinai in December of 2009. My treatment plan is simple, less invasive and time consuming than previous, and (thank God) more safe. You might know that I hang with my friends and don’t think of myself as different. You also might know I fundraised thousands of dollars for the Guts N Glory 5K Walk in 2007 and because of my efforts, was asked by CCFA to speak at their national convention in New York. You might know my smile grew bigger that day. That I was beginning to piece it all together and embrace my disease. You might know that I continued to fundraise at every other CCFA Orange County 5K walk, each time bringing in thousands of dollars, being deemed the “Grand Marshall”, and all the while surrounded by “Team Mason”; family, friends, teachers, and colleagues sporting the team t-shirt. You might know I have attended Camp Oasis for the past three summers for a week with other Crohn’s and Colitis kids. And that this week is my best week of the year. You just might know a piece of me.
I enjoy telling my story, sharing a bit about myself so others will talk about Crohn’s and colitis. I have never been mad or sad, disappointed or ashamed of having Crohn’s. I actually am thankful God chose me because I know exactly what I need to do to help others. I think Crohn’s has helped form me into a better person, definitely one with more empathy, but also one that is passionate about spreading the word…it does not define me. And once someone with Crohn’s or colitis begins to take back their life, they too can choose to be empowered by it to DO something.
SAM HOOPER - BEACH CITIES
My journey with ulcerative colitis began almost 6 years ago. I first noticed symptoms when I was 19, just after I started university. It took over 2 years for the doctors to diagnose me with UC. I knew nothing about the disease, or the roller-coaster journey I had ahead of me. I honestly didn’t think the disease was a big deal at first. I took my medication and the symptoms disappeared. I got on with my life, and although I had a few symptoms now and again, I seemed to be able to control them easily and quickly by increasing my medication for a short time. This definitely lulled me into a false sense of security.
In my final year of university began a flare that was not so easy to get under control. Then followed almost 3 years of constant symptoms that really affected my life. I was rarely in the mood to get out of bed, let alone socialize, and I had just moved to California, so it made it very difficult for me to make friends, and get a job. I kept thinking it would soon get better, but it didn’t.
2012 was the worst year for me. I ended up spending 2 weeks in the hospital on 2 occasions, testing positive for C.Diff in both instances. I had been taking a cocktail of medications, with detrimental side effects, and they hadn’t even been helping because of the infection. I was both physically and mentally exhausted, but I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I was sick of being sick and I was not going to let UC rule my life anymore. I was ready to find something positive to focus on.
I decided to take part in the Vegas Half Marathon with Team Challenge. Ulcerative colitis had already stopped me from doing too many things, and I wanted to prove that it could not stop me from doing this! I had spent most of the year feeling extremely helpless, but when myself and my family and friends raised over $25,000 for CCFA, and I crossed that finish line, I felt empowered. I knew I had made a real difference in helping others struggling with these diseases and that felt great!
I wanted to continue my journey with Team Challenge and continue raising awareness for the disease. I am here to support the runners and walkers from the Los Angeles and Orange County teams. Join us in the fight to cure Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and we will reach the finish line together!