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.
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.
Marco A compliment that many people give me is that I am a trooper. I am almost 13 years old, but I first started having symptoms when I was 9. Basically, was not eating very much because of no appetite and when I did I had very painful stomach pains. I was tired, pale and I made frequent trips to the bathroom. We didn't know what was happening at first and it was affecting my everyday life. Sometimes I had to go to the bathroom right before school, and I was late for events constantly. So we went to a pediatric G.I doctor, and within 10 minutes (Dr. Spivak is amazing!) he had a hunch of a diagnosis, either I had Crohns or Colitis. At first I couldn't believe it and wanted to hide it. I felt embarrassed and wondered why it was only happening to me. I was extremely skinny and had stomach pains all the time. My treatment was not easier and I was shocked by the amount of pills I had to take-16 a day! When I needed to get my colonoscopy and endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis, the preparation was disgusting and I almost had to miss Halloween. At first, I was put on prednisone which made me constantly hungry and made my cheeks all chubby. After I was taken off prednisone I was put on another drug, but that did not work as planned. I was constantly having flare ups. As a result, I had to be taken out of my travel soccer team and did not feel very energetic. Most frustrating for me was that beside feeling sick, I was not growing or gaining weight. In fact, I did not grow for almost 1 1/2 years. That was very difficult for me psychologically as I was one of the tallest in my class and I was now watching all my friends rise above me. When all else failed we went to the last resort, which was a drug called Remicade. Remicade is an infusion that I take once every two months for two or three hours. The first time I took it I wasn't sure what would happen, but after a week I felt better than I've ever been. Now I have been doing Remicade for about four months and have grown two and a half inches and gained about 20 pounds! When I first got Crohns I was embarrassed and didn't want anyone to know, but then I realized I wanted to take action for my disease. My mother told me about ways I could get involved through the Crohn's Foundation. So I recruited my school coach who also has Crohn's and got involved with Take Steps. I told everyone I know, family friends, neighbors and by the end we raised a total of $9,000 with over 70 donors! I got so much out of participating in Take Steps. It was a great way to find a cure for a disease many people have including me, so I will do it every year I can, because every penny counts. Now that I feel part of the solution I wanted to be more involved. When Danielle Thibault, from Take Steps Program, asked me if I wanted to be part of the Team Challenge I said absolutely!
I wanted to tell my story to the Team Challenge participants for this season. I was inspired and so grateful that these participants are running or walking 13.13 miles for a cure! I guess I can now define all of the Team Challenge participants as troopers too!
When I joined Team Challenge I knew I wanted to be a part of an organization that had been such a huge partner in my life and in my battle. I turned my frustration of the years of living with colitis into inspiration and motivation. That fueled me to set goals for myself to fundraise, get healthy and even train for a half marathon which I completed in 2012 with Team Challenge and the CCFA. I knew I was doing something important to support a wonderful cause that effects so many others who are battling Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis and other forms of IBD, but I didn’t know how reaching and surpassing the goals I set for myself would be so empowering and fulfilling. The debilitating symptoms of these diseases will always be a part of my life but I have a different outlook now. Each and every day I make sure to do more with the life I’ve got!