Marathon #52 – 26.2 for Zibby
Sophomore year of college, at 19 years old, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I had never heard of this “disease” and did not want to believe that my life was going to be changed in any way. Almost 20 years and 2 kids later, I was recently recognized as the 2021 Rising Community Leader in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This award was presented by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s New England Chapter at their annual Young Professionals event, Stories from the Gut, this past June 24th. (Learn more here). I never expected this disease and foundation would play such a prominent role in my life.
I have tried nearly ever medication on the market for Crohn’s (turns out I’m allergic to a few and the rest lost their effectiveness). I have had major surgery only once luckily and really only been hospitalized (emergently) once. I’ve tried diets, acupuncture, reiki, massages, and supplements. I have had some bad flares for sure. Losing about 30lbs in less than a month, vomiting everything I ate, and then being told I should consider a permanent ostomy. Nevertheless, I feel lucky. I have never had to go on disability. I am able to have a social life filled with love and laughter. I was able to carry and give birth to two beautiful daughters. A huge reason all of that is possible is my relationship with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
In 2005, I joined Camp Oasis, the Foundation’s camp for children with Crohn’s and Colitis, as a counselor, and went back for about 10 more years! I made some of my best friends at this camp and learned so much about my disease and myself.
Being a camp counselor at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Camp Oasis, single-handedly changed the course of my life. I made life-long friends, gained mentors, learned about IBD, and learned an incredible amount about overcoming adversity. Each year I attended; I grew more confident. I learned to love myself not in spite my disease but because of it. The campers I met may have had heartbreaking stories, but at camp they were “typical” kids having a blast. The counselors also all have IBD and their own story of struggle. Everyone at Camp Oasis inspired and continues to inspire me. They give me courage and strength.
My experience with these incredibly brave kids inspired me to do more to fight this disease on a bigger level.
In 2013, I co-founded the Young Professional’s group and at our first “Night In White” event, we raised just over $40,000. Only five years later, in my final year as president, we raised over $115,000!! Over those five years I served as president, this dedicated and hard-working group of young professionals (most of whom are personally affected by the disease) raised $413,372! The group has since grown tremendously and last year in the midst of the pandemic they raised over $120,000 virtually! I am incredibly proud of this group and all they have accomplished for the Foundation and the next generation….which is why this award is so special to me. I am so humbled and honored.
I am so grateful for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and for you, Marc. For all you do to raise awareness and funds for IBD. You are an incredible inspiring force. While I will not be running a marathon, I do commit to continuing to strengthen myself physically and mentally, and to continue to raise money to fight these diseases. Thank you for giving me strength and inspiration!
Marathon 52 – Recap