Pictures left-right: Linda, Melissa, Brian, Missy, Amber
Team Challenge Honoree: Monica Johnson
Team Challenge Mentors: Linda, Melissa, Brian, Amber!
I joined Team Challenge after my wife, Kim, was diagnosed with severe Crohn's in July 2011. Since then, I have completed 4 half marathons. This will be my 5th season with Team Challenge and my forth as a Mentor. In the last 24 months, I have learned there are many people in my life that suffer from some form of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) or have a family member or friend that suffers from an IBD. It is difficult to express in words the sense of accomplishment, and camaraderie, you will experience the first time you complete an endurance event. I am proud to represent Team Challenge and the CCFA.
I joined Team Challenge in Spring of 2012 to fulfill my desire of completing a half marathon while supporting and fundraising for an organization near and dear to my heart.
I suffer from Crohn’s Disease, I have my entire life, but was finally diagnosed at the age of 27 after giving birth to my first son and suffering a terrible episode that hospitalized me. I am now 41 and happy to report that much of my recent years I have spent in remission with flare ups only now and again. I have learned with the help of integrative digestive disease doctors, dieticians specializing in IBDs, frequents scans and a healthy lifestyle, I can manage Crohn’s with very little medication.The training I did with Team Challenge was epic! The training schedule, support and guidance of the phenomenal coaches, the friendships and camaraderie achieved with members of the team were like no other. With 3 beautiful women by my side, us first timers completed our half marathon in beautiful Napa Valley, CA with tears streaming down our faces in pure joy and excitement as well having kicked Crohn’s in the teeth for not keeping us from fulfilling a dream! What a rewarding experience and one that also helped me open up about my disease to friends and family bringing awareness and much needed funds to find better treatment options and someday a cure.
I am super excited and proud to be coming back as a mentor for Team Challenge. It’s an honor and a privilege and I look forward to helping new team members enjoy their own rewarding journey!
Meet Mentor Linda:
I joined Team Challenge in 2011 in honor of my sister Sharon who has Crohn's. Training for a half marathon with the awesome Team Challenge coaches has been very fulfilling. It's a great way to inform the community about ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease and the need to fund research to find a cure. It's an inspiring experience to train alongside others who share your passion for good health while you work toward your personal goal of completing a half marathon in a beautiful setting.
Meet Mentor Missy:
I joined Team Challenge in the Spring of 2012 as a result of a promise I made to myself as I laid in the hospital for 30 days. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2005 and battled with it over the next 6 years until I finally had my colon removed in 2011. As I lay in bed in the hospital I swore to myself I wouldn’t let UC beat me. It was then that I saw a flyer for Team Challenge and I thought to myself, “What a great way to prove that I’m the victor and not my UC.” So I promised myself that if I ever got out of the hospital I would sign up for Team Challenge as soon as I was healthy. Three months after my illeostomy was reversed I was at a Team Challenge information session. Just under 7 months after that same surgery I completed my first half marathon with tears in my eyes and with some great friends by my side.
I HATED running before I joined Team Challenge and now I’m signing up to do another half marathon. That’s how strongly my experience with Team Challenge affected me. I am so excited to be a mentor and I am proud to represent Team Challenge and CCFA!
Meet Mentor Amber:
Before Team Challenge, I was a very noncompliant Crohn's patient. After being diagnosed with Crohn's in 2005 and eventually Colitis in 2012, I was afraid to exercise and really didn't have the desire or energy. I also thought my doctors were insane for suggesting the very idea of exercise. Who wants to be in the middle of a workout and get sick?
After my most recent 3 week hospitalization in February of 2013, I had some health complications that went beyond my GI tract. I was very afraid, my doctors were doubtful for a full recovery but I was not ready to give in to my disease. I knew then I had to take my medications, find a support group and oh yes...exercise! I emailed Team Challenge Coach Paul Fulton on day 14 of my hospital stay. And the rest, as "they" say is history. I met with Paul and my amazing Mentor, Linda Turner and signed up for Team Challenge. Team Challenge has changed my life for the better! The coaches, mentors and teammates are phenomenal. Top class all the way! My health is improving with the exercise. The support and inspiration I get from my teammates is priceless and I don't have to be embarrassed. I want to tell my story. I want to fight for a better life and a cure. Thank you Team Challenge!
Meet Monica: Honored Hero
I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when I was just 5 years old and have tried many different types of medications and procedures to get me to where I am today. I am proud to say I am living a healthy and normal college life, well as normal as any IBD patient can have, and am so grateful to be where I am today.
Having this disease for so long has greatly impacted the person I am today and my strength and outlook on life. I attended Camp Oasis as a camper for 5 years and will be a counselor for the first time this summer. I have also volunteered for my local North Texas Chapter for almost 7 years and have recently been involved with the South Texas Chapter while at school As a college student, I have been a member of CCFA's National Council of Collegiate Leaders for two years now and it has been so inspiring to be able to work with such an amazing group of people and actually be able to spread awareness to the college community about IBD. I have participated in many events to help raise awareness and fundraise money to help find a cure. Many of these events include Take Steps, Putt for a Purpose, bowl-a-thons and now Team Challenge.
Being a part of Team Challenge this summer has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and being able to share it with my mom has been incredible. I can't say enough how amazing the coaches and mentors are for their continued support and encouragement throughout the entire 20 week training season. My mom and I are looking forward to our first half marathon, Napa to Sonoma! I am so humbled to be the honored hero for the Vegas run and I am so excited to still be a part of the Team Challenge family.