Team Challenge Mentors: Brian , Dora, Linda, Melissa, and Jennifer!
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 4th season with Team Challenge and my third as a Mentor. In the last 18 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 was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in May of 2005. It has been a long road. I have had this disease all of my life, but was finally diagnosed at the age of 32.
I have been in remission for almost a year! I am working hard to stay healthy and active. I completed the challenge of finishing my first half marathon! I trained for 16 weeks with TEAM CHALLENGE. Team Challenge supports the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. It has been a lot of FUN! It has been a good experience to train with others who also live with Crohn's disease.
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 Jennifer:
Originally from the Washington D.C. area, I joined Team Challenge DC in 2011 and ran my first Half Marathon at the Inaugural Virginia Wine Country Race. An avid hiker, I knew I could easily walk it no sweat, but was encouraged to run it. I did (with a bit of walking). Since then, I have been hooked on running. In late 2007, after months of various ailments, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. After a long adjustment period, and alienating things I love, I began going to CCFA meetings, and began meeting other people who suffered from an IBD. After I took part in Take Steps walk in 2009, and began feeling more comfortable talking about the disease and my story. Last April I moved to Texas and am excited to be a part of Team Challenge North Texas this season. Additionally, I am extremely happy that my boyfriend, Jon, will be joining me in this adventure….it will be his first half marathon!
Meet Mario: Honored Hero
My name is Mario Almanza and I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at age 14. My symptoms started in August, 2010 with bloody stools, vomiting, abdominal pain and weight loss. My pediatrician initially prescribed flagyl but after several weeks on this medication, my symptoms became worse. My parents took me to Children’s Medical Center Dallas for a battery of tests. I was immediately referred to a gastroenterologist. My GI doctor initially prescribed Asacol and Prednisone. Within 3 days, I felt so much better, however, once I weaned off prednisone, my symptoms started again and I was hospitalized for the first time.
I was placed on prednisone again and Imuran was added to my regimen. I weaned off, and once again I was admitted to Children's Medical Center in Dallas. After trying different medications/combinations, my flare still had not calmed down. My GI doctor started me on Remicade infusions; I had three infusions within 6 weeks. After close to a year-long flare, I was given the option to have surgery or risk perforating my colon. As a last ditch effort, I was placed on TPN for an entire week to see if my flare would calm down. During this hospitalization, I spent 25 days at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
After much consideration, my family and I decided it was best to have a total colectomy with j-pouch surgery as a final option to cure my Ulcerative Colitis. My total colectomy took place in August, 2011. Adjusting my life to wearing an osotmy bag was challenging, especially the first few weeks. By the time I finally adjusted to my ostomy bag, it was time for my reversal. I had my reversal in December, 2011. With so many hospitalizations and surgeries, I missed my entire 10th grade. I had a tutor come to my house twice a week to help me with my coursework. It has been a long recovery. Today, I am out eighteen months from my colectomy and am still fighting chronic pain from pouchitis. Within the next few weeks, I will undergo more testing.
Thank you SO much for participating in the CCFA Team Challenge, I’m so grateful!