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.
I first began having symptoms of a flare when I was a senior in high school. I had horrible stomach pain, was losing lots of weight and, of course, constantly having to go to the bathroom. I would have to skip class often because I was so sick. I never really told anyone about it and suffered quietly until I went off to college and things got so bad I had to get help. I found a doctor who was finally able to diagnose me and told me I had Ulcerative Colitis.
After diagnosis my health continued to decline. I saw multiple specialists and tried every available treatment but none of them alleviated my symptoms. Dealing with the crushing disappointment of having every doctor tell you that “things still don’t look great” and knowing that your health keeps slipping out of your control made everyday a challenge to find the strength just to get out of the door.
Then I got involved with the CCFA who taught me that to truly face my Ulcerative Colitis, I must not simply recognize that I have it, but to look at it in a new way: see how it affects all aspects of my life and find new ways to approach my health, nutrition, medication and fitness. Because of this I sought out new medications and began taking Anti-TNF drugs. I made my health and fitness a priority in my life. I incorporated alternative therapies into my wellness program like acupuncture, Tai Chi and Kung Fu. I worked incredibly hard, determined to finally gain control of my disease, and slowly I began to feel better. The Team Challenge runners also were a huge inspiration to me as their dedication showed me that I could be strong too and to not get discouraged but to keep fighting and pushing! After 3 years of hard work and dedication to my health, I have finally reached a place in my life where I can say, “I am healthy!”
I run with CCFA Team Challenge because I hope that my running will give someone else the hope and the inner strength to get in control of their disease. And I encourage anyone who has ever thought of doing something physically challenging to consider running. You now have an opportunity to do something great, and on so many levels: you will accomplish a half-marathon, you will get in great shape (always a plus), make new friends, help to raise money for an amazing cause and, possibly bigger than all of that, you will show people what hard work and dedication can do. If you do that, I promise that although you may never know it, you will have helped to inspire and bring hope to those who were once in my place, those who haven’t had much to be hopeful about in a long time!
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!