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!
"My name is Vala Hohalek, I am 32 years old, and I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis four years ago. This disease has changed my life in every way imaginable, it has not been an easy road for for my family or me, as I have been hospitalized several times with surgery looming as my next course of action.
Colitis came out of the blue-just hit me like a ton of bricks. I had no idea how I was supposed to deal with this, no medications or treatments would work, side effects were almost worse than the disease itself, and the worse part was how active I was previous to my diagnosis. The battle consumes you physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I am dedicated to joining the cause and raise money for research with hope of one day being cured from this disease just as millions of others have hope."
CARMINA CUNNINGHAM - SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY
"It was during one of our weekend adventures when it hit me. I was in constant need of a restroom, and my energy level plummeted. When we got home, I went straight to bed and didn’t want to come out to play anymore. Our (new) house was gutted to the beams, and coincidentally, it felt as if my body was equally as torn up. With a new marriage, four children, full time job (as a 6th grade teacher in Anaheim), an active lifestyle, and house in disrepair, this was an unacceptable illness.
After a few unsuccessful doctors’ appointments, 'Take some fiber, you’ll be fine,' I was referred to a gastroenterologist and endured my first colonoscopy. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I didn’t know much about the disease at the time, but I was thrilled to have my questions answered and start moving toward a recovery. With the right medication and some lifestyle and dietary adjustments, I am, for the most part, in remission.
I am honored to be a part of this season’s Team Challenge team. Together we will find a cure!"
DANIELA CARDONA - LOS ANGELES
My name is Daniela Cardona and I am 21 years old. At the age of 17, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis as well as Pancreatitis in October 2009. To learn at the age of 17 that you are going to live with a disease for the rest of your life can be pretty devastating. It was hard and stressful on me and my family too. I was beginning my senior year, had wanted to take all my exams, start my college applications, and finish my last cross-country and swim season of high school. Unfortunately, I had to put everything on hold because of my diagnosis and chronic symptoms.
Since being diagnosed, I have been hospitalized for a total of 13 months, have had 3 abdominal surgeries (including my ileostomy), and have had countless painful procedures and PIC lines. This is probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to overcome, enduring hospitalizations, infusions, pain, and having to put aside all my sports and activities to take care of my health. But, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from going to college and achieving my goals.
Along with the support of my family and friends, Team Challenge has been an important part of helping me deal with all of this. This wonderful program has restored what Ulcerative Colitis once took away from me… HOPE and PERSONAL STRENGTH! Team Challenge has reminded me that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
Before Team Challenge, I felt like I was the only one who had UC, no one understood what was happening to me, was embarrassed, and was just overall scared!!! When I first joined Team Challenge, I was so nervous about training and didn't know if I was really capable of running a half marathon. But, with Team Challenge I was able to find my inner strength and connect with people that knew EXACTLY what I was going through. I feel like this team has literally saved my life.
Running the Las Vegas Half Marathon 2013 was beyond AWESOME. Not only did I help fund raised to find a cure for this illness but I also completed my first half marathon! That was something I never thought I would be able to do after my diagnosis. Hope is the light at the end of a dark tunnel. With your hard work and dedication we could get to the end of the tunnel sooner. Anyone can join the team. No matter what your athletic background is, our coaches are the best, and will get you across the finish line! You will be AMAZED by the many things that you can accomplish through hard work and dedication :)
Together we can find a cure!