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.
Abby is a typical 14 year old girl, her days consist of going to school, texting with friends, posting pictures and all of the things teenage girls do. She loves to sing, dance, and is a straight A student. By looking at or talking with her you would never know she has been living with Crohn’s disease for 10 years.
In early 2003 at age 4 she started experiencing bloody stools, stomach pain and frequently waking up at night to use the restroom. We went back and forth with our Pediatrician for about 8 months until he recommended we see a GI Specialist. After many tests and a colonoscopy our GI doctor diagnosed her with IBD. We were in shock. What was IBD? How did she get it? How do we tell a 4 year old girl she has a chronic disease?
Once she was diagnosed it was tough to get her to respond to any medication. Many of the meds were not made for a young child to take. We tried repackaging them in smaller pills, hiding them in various foods and just about anything to get her to take them. Finally in the spring of 2004 the medication started working. Unfortunately at that time she was taking Remicade, Flagyl, 6 mp, Prednisone, Cipro, and VSL. The doctors weren’t sure what was actually working for her. Slowly her doctor took one medication away at a time until we were sure what was really working. She currently is only on Remicade infusions every 7-8 weeks and has been doing that for the past 9 years.
Abby never complains about living with a chronic illness. She doesn’t love having to get colonoscopies or infusions, but has accepted it as part of her life.
I ran with Team Challenge in the 2012 Virginia ½ marathon. It was such a positive experience for my whole family. I’ve met many great people who are directly and indirectly affected by IBD. As a Mom, you want to fix any problems your child experiences, sometimes it’s not possible. The money raised through Team Challenge goes directly to research and hopefully one day there will be a cure. I’ve decided to run the Vegas race to show her that I’m committed to helping find a cure!!
- Kim Nunley, Abby's Mom
Imagine for a moment you’re a 12 year old girl; you have almost completed 6th grade at a new school, making new friends, you even have a boyfriend, and then you start having no energy, your concentration starts getting shorter and shorter, and your knees start hurting. Then the scariest thing that can happen to a kid happens, you start passing blood. After many trips to different doctors, you and your parents are told you have Ulcerative Colitis. Unfortunately, that was reality for Sophie Long.
Sophie has always been energetic and outgoing, easily making friends wherever she goes. She has spent summers with grandparents, going to 4H camps, having sleepovers and having loads of fun. But as the school year went on, she became more and more fatigued. Blood work and colonoscopies led to the diagnosis and a lengthy hospital stay.
During her 11 day stay, Sophie needed steroids, TPN (Total Parental Nutrition, IV fluids with vitamins and proteins added), Iron transfusion, and a total of 4 units of blood to get her stabilized so she could get on the road to recovery. During her stay, we did our best to keep her spirits up; family came from out of town to visit, special visitors to the hospital stopped by her room, nearly every dog that came to the facility came by for a pet therapy visit, and her friends and teachers from school came to see her. She was also started on Remicade to help treat the UC, and it started to work quickly and she was able to be discharged and go home. I don’t know who was happier, Sophie or her parents!
Since then, Sophie continues to get Remicade every 6-8 weeks. We were able to recognize symptoms much quicker and earlier and able to stop an exacerbation in its tracks. Sophie recently started gymnastics again and is making plans to attend 4H Camp, attend Camp Oasis in Michigan in July (her first one!), and go to Chicago to watch her stepmom run in the Allstate/Team Challenge Chicago 13.1 for CCFA.
As an assignment in English class this past school year, the students had to write a poem about where they are from; here is some of what Sophie wrote…
“I am from St. Albert’s to VBMS [Van Buren Middle School],
from horrible grades and being bullied
and having 1 or 2 friends
to A’s and B’s in classes
and having best friends
and being loved by them…
I am from Gymnastics shows to being on
swim team and getting “gold” medals
at some of our competitions.
I am from 3 parents that
I’m lucky that they get along…
I am from 4-H camp in WV
with my “extended family”
to Girl scout campouts
at the zoo with amazon
animals and plants.”
- Louis Long, Sophie's dad
For more inspiring stories, see those of our past honorees.
Ella Corbitt - Summer 2013