We are so lucky to have Timmy as our honoree here in New England. Over the past few years Timmy has become an inspiration for Team Challenge teams across the country. This year he is has the special opportunity to be the Honoree for the entire country!
Timmy was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2009 at the age of five. His diagnosis was not an easy one - he started having random fevers, stomach aches, and joint pain at the age of three. Sometimes his joint pain was so severe he count not run or play. Timmy's growth was also affected.After a long road of hospital visits and tests, Timmy was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. In the three years since his diagnosis, he has been hospitalized multiple times, had two major surgeries (removing two feet of his intestines), and has tried countless medications. Timmy does his best to be like other eight-year-olds he love loves Legos and riding his bike when he can. But he and his family live with uncertainty every day, never knowing when there will be another trip to the hospital.
In spite of it all, they remain hopeful that his disease will come under control and there will someday be cures. Timmy serves as a constant reminder for our team for why we walk and run Team Challenge. For Timmy a cure cannot come fast enough.
Hi! I'm Erin and I'm one of the honorees for Team Challenge New England this season - though I'm way less cute than Timmy. I've been both a participant and a mentor in past seasons and Team Challenge means a great dealto me. It is more than just an organization that raises money for acure; it is a family, a support base, and more than anything else friends. I know thatall of you will find the same thing this season as the team trainsand grows together. But enough about Team Challenge - let me tell youa bit about my own story.
I was first diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at 13 during the summer before my freshmen year of high school. I got sick hard and fast. I wasa competitive swimmer, away at an intense swim camp, and I was goingto the bathroom all the time. When my parents picked me up from camp I had lost some weight, but still looked good. I looked fit.
But then, the weight kept coming off. Soon I was dangerously skinny, unable to eat, and going to the bathroom all the time. My motherwill always remember when I insisted on competing at the New EnglandChampionship meet at the end of the season when I could barely stand(I sort of swayed on the block as we waited to take our mark) – mycoach reassured her that if anything happened he would go in afterme. But in many ways I was lucky. My symptoms were so typical ofCrohn's that I was diagnosed quickly. After an extremely long course ofHIGH dose Prednisone and quite a few other medications, I wasin remission - or as close to remission as you can get.
After my first flare, I was fairly healthy through most of high school and college, though the truth is that those of us with Crohn's andColitis know that our definition of "healthy" is always different. In college, I had bronchitis two-three times a year.One time I somehow ended up with h. pylori (which can cause ulcers) and had to go on the world's worst course of mixed antibiotictreatment for a few weeks. Yet all the while, I lived a normal life.I graduated high school Cum Laude and was named the Best Swimmer in the
State my senior year (in Rhode Island – its small). In college, I swam on the varsity team, playedUltimate Frisbee, and studied in the honors program. I would alwaysinsist, to anyone who asked, that Crohn's Disease was something I*had*, but that it didn't have me. And that it wasn't going to impactmy life.
After college, I moved to Washington, D.C. and continued on – mostly in remission. Until the summer of 2007, when I suddenly andinexplicably flared. I lost weight, felt sick, and basically stoppedeating. I also developed erythema nodosum - red sores on your legs -mine came with the fun side effect that my legs swelled to twicetheir normal size. This wasespecially vexing because it developed three days before I was leaving for a six week backpackingtrip in Europe - my big adventure before starting law school. After atrip to the E.R. and to my G.I. (at which I firmly informed them that
I was getting on a plane in three days, no matter what), I went to Europe. For six weeks, I backpacked through Europe and looking back Iwas in full flare - but because of force of will and adrenaline I madeit to nine European cities and didn't slow down once, except for theoccasional afternoon nap.
When I got back, I started law school - a few days late because of a brief hospitalization for a couple of blood transfusions. Law school was tough.I developed more serious symptoms, got sicker, and developedintractable fistulas. But I also found great doctors and surgeonshere in Boston. During my second year, I got my “temporary” ileostomy. And during my third year, it became permanent and I said good-bye to my colon. I can’t say I miss it. It was stressful and hard.
But also during law school - I found Team Challenge. I met morepeople than I ever would have who had the same conditions I had,people with ostomies, people with fistulas, people who had taken everymedication under the sun. But more than that - they were people whounderstood that while it was a struggle, my life wasn't all abouthaving Crohn's disease. We talked about life and running and fun andkids and schools and work and all the normal things in life. Becausewe're family joined by this shared experience. My health did notreact well to running my half-marathon, but I've remained involved asmuch as I can. My brother runs with both Team New England and Team
Rhode Island. I have been a mentor. And now I am incredibly proud tobe an Honoree. I hope that I can inspire just a few of you to run thatextra mile and to raise those extra dollars for a cure, not just forme - but for Timmy and for all the amazing people in my Team Challengefamily.