Heather's Chicago Marathon & Zion Hike for CCFA!
Twenty+ years ago I was diagnosed with a debilitating chronic disease, Ulcerative Colitis. It has taken me up and down for decades. At my worst, pushing my way (TERRIFIED of my illness) through news live shots or barely 90lbs with three kids unable to leave my home to even walk them to the park. At my best, I ran my first Chicago Marathon in 2011 to celebrate finally finding a treatment that got me into remission! Through it all, I have always tried to keep adventure in our lives and encourage my family to keep moving past the worst of it. While bouncing through flare-ups and remission, I still managed to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, run 4 marathons (THIS ONE will be to be 5!) we've shown our kids our beautiful country camping and hiking on countless road trips, and run the famed Hood to Coast 200 mile relay. None of these things, NONE, would have been possible without diagnosis and treatment research. Millions of dollars and decades of research and trials have gotten us to a point where a gal like me can be in remission for 10+ years running marathons! I am living my best life getting my bi-monthly Remicade infusion treatments, thanks to the research and fundraising done before me. BUT, WE STILL DO NOT HAVE A CURE, and new treatments are needed every day!
This is where I need your help. I am going to fight against Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis the best way I know how... fundraising through a great adventure TIMES TWO! In October, I will run my 5th Chicago Marathon for CCFA and 2 weeks later, will Hike Zion National Park to raise money and awareness for Crohn's & Colitis Research. This will be a giant undertaking, but it will all be worth it because your donations will not only motivate me to the finish, but they will help us get closer to a cure. My goal is to raise $6,650 this year for research through these two events.
Some of you might remember my great Grand Canyon adventure in 2019 with the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's (CCFA) Team Challenge. It all started because I was supposed to hike the canyon 20 years ago in 2001, but due to my Colitis complicating an otherwise healthy pregnancy, my doc said, NOPE! Thanks to research and fundraising before me, I finally got to realize that Grand Canyon dream and raise money doing it! In 2019, I joined Team Challenge with a plan to backpack the canyon Rim to Rim and raise research dollars. Well... during training for the 2019 Chicago marathon and the GC hike, I broke my ankle 4 weeks before the hike. Total bummer. I did not get to run the marathon nor do the Rim to Rim backpack trip, BUT I WAS able to raise almost $8000 for the foundation and research! I was also able to do a shortened (hobbled) version of the GC hike with some AMAZING people with challenges just like mine. Oh the stories we shared. It isn't often that you're surrounded by people who totally understand your illness and life-challenges with a simple glance. It was life changing.
Fast forward to 2020. After my Grand Canyon Hike, I vowed to make raising money for CCFA and celebrating my health with adventure a priority in my life. I registered for the 2020 Chicago Marathon with a fundraising goal of $2000 for CCFA. We all know how that went. It didn't. So one Covid year later, and I'm doubling up on my fundraising and adventure and finally running that 5th Chicago Marathon AND Hiking Zion National Park with Team Challenge to raise precious research dollars for Crohn's & Colitis and other IBD diseases. TWO WEEKS APART!
About Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis:
Known collectively as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affects almost 1 in 100 people. They are painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system. Crohn's disease may attack anywhere along the digestive tract, while ulcerative colitis inflames only the large intestine (colon). Symptoms may include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, and weight loss. Many patients require numerous hospitalizations and surgery. Most people develop the diseases between the ages of 15 and 35; however the incidence is increasing in children. They are debilitating and embarassing diseases.
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (CCFA) is the largest non-profit, voluntary, health organization dedicated to finding cures for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The Foundation’s mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who are affected by these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research; providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public; and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD.
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