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 is 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.
Meet our Honoree: Henry Auerbach:
My story starts like a lot of others with Crohn's. At age 16 I started showing symptoms and ultimately experienced my first flare. Being the cool 16 year old that I was, I hid the symptoms (bloody bowel movements 12 times a day) from my parents for as long as I could. Finally, the symptoms became obvious, my weight dropped drastically, and the pain became indescribable. I had no idea that this was just the beginning...
That first hospital stay lasted 4 weeks and consisted of a fairly regular routine: the doctors would visit in the morning, I rolled around in pain for a few hours, had my afternoon cocktail of IV pain meds, IV antibiotics, IV nutrition (I was going on weeks without food) and the occasional blood transfusion to cap off the night. My parents basically moved into the hospital with me and their presence made a world of difference. After a very strong attack of IV steroids the flare had calmed down and I was sent home on Thanksgiving Day 2002. It was a long four months before I had the strength to return to high school full time and slowly worked my way back into everyday life.
The years that followed seemed to be pretty normal. I went off to college taking only a few meds that most Crohn's patients have in common. A minor flare here and there, the occasional crippling stomach pains, but all in all college life was good.
Then the plot thickened....
I was scheduled for a routine colonoscopy during my sophomore year of college. During the colonoscopy, the scope perforated my colon. The exact spot could not be determined. After four days in the hospital in extreme pain while waiting to see if the colon would heal itself, it was determined that I needed an emergency colectomy and ileostomy. I had always discussed the J-pouch with my parents as a potential treatment but again, I never imagined it would happen like this.
Three surgeries later, one staph infection, and a total of five weeks in the hospital; I now live everyday without a colon. I carry my malformed stomach with pride. I still have complications and flares, but for the most part live an extremely amazing, healthy life! Although exercise had been something I learned to avoid, with the support of my wife I now train every day. Team Challenge has provided me an outlet to give back to my community and help others in my situation, while I get so much more from the experience.
My family and I always use laughter in dealing with the pain. No matter how much I'm hurting or how dark the situation looks, there is never an inappropriate time for a joke and a laugh. I once read online: "No Colon, Still Rollin”. I have adopted this in my life and love to talk to those going through various stages of the disease. I try to spread that message every day and am honored to count you as a teammate in this quest!