Local Honored Heroes

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Pediatric Honored Hero: Mirari Saenz

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Adult Honored Hero: Manny Morgan

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My name is Mirari Saenz. I am 17 years old, in 12th grade, and have had Ulcerative Colitis for 6 years. When I was in the 7th grade, after much blood loss and severe bowel issues, we took several trips to the ER and had many different speculations as to the problems I was having such as eating disorders, Ebola, and pregnancy. I was admitted to the hospital where I had my first colonoscopy/endoscopy, and finally diagnosed with left-sided UC. I had the typical treatments such as feeding tubes, liquid diets, blood transfusions, enemas, steroids, and multiple colonscopies. After about a year, I was put on biologics and slowly started to go into remission. Although I am doing much better these days and have been in remission for 4 years, something as common as pneumonia or strep throat can put me into the hospital or keep me out of school for months. This is why it is so important to wear a mask, social distance and use hand sanitizer these days.

The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation has had a great impact on my life by bringing awareness about the disease through Camp Oasis and Take Steps. After I became involved and met others, especially kids, who deal with the same disease, I was able to accept my disease and know that I can get through all the difficulties because I am not alone.

Due to Covid-19, some people with disabilities have benefitted because now things are more accessible - something as simple as a bingo night or online school. For someone like me who has missed out on events, hanging out with friends, or school in the past, some of these changes are welcomed. Before, I was sitting at home at dealing with UC alone while the world kept moving. Now, everyone is at home, and we are all missing out on things. Because of this, when someone now asks me how I'm doing with Covid-19 and being at home and missing out on things, I say it isn't much different than what I've done in the past, except now I'm not alone, and the whole world has been put on pause. I think that statement alone has been eye opening for people, especially ones with no background knowledge to the IBD world. I hope that convinces people to take action with Take Steps and the Foundation, because even though that's only one factor of what we go through, it's a big one that we can all relate to, with or without having IBD.

Although I have been on biologics for several years and in remission, I am passionate about finding a cure for many reasons. I know it's mostly a waiting game, hard work and patience, so in the mean time, I think we should take the opportunity with Covid-19 and bring awareness while everyone can relate. 

I Take Steps with the Foundation for myself as well as my other family members who suffer from IBD.

I am 100% committed to Take Steps. Please join my effort to find cures.


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My name is Emmanuel Morgan. I'm 25 years old and I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis during my last semester of college less than 4 years ago. I knew my life would never be the same when I had to rush to the restroom during the middle of my graduation ceremony.

After living with UC for about 13 months, I had the first of three surgeries. It was an 8-month journey that included having my entire colon removed, living for a while with a lovely stoma & ostomy bag, and the end result was a J-pouch that has made me as close to normal as I'll ever be. The journey was far from easy. About five months after being diagnosed, I started to take a turn for the worst.

By the end of 2017 I had lost nearly 40 pounds and was using the restroom approximately 20 times a day. I had to quit my first job, move back in with my parents, and for the moment give up any semblance of a corporate career. A month after moving home, I was hospitalized for 10 days while multiple gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons shuffled in and out of my room searching for a solution. Two months later I had the first of three surgeries. 

One of the most difficult things about the entire journey was the fact that I felt like the ultimate burden to my family and the others around me. However, the biggest takeaway from the last four years of my life has been that I am astounded by the most loving, caring, selfless people on earth who collectively strengthened my mental health during a time where logic would suggest that my overall mental health should take a dive.

I've tried holistic treatments, I've had many infusions, and I've been to doctor's offices galore. For me, sometimes, none of the above was enough to fight the damage that has already been done by ulcerative colitis to my colon. As it turned out, surgeries were a permanent "solution." That being said, I believe that if we don't use our story to help those who are going through similar situations, then what was my journey good for? Why would I not try to help those around me who struggle with IBD issues when I personally know the impact the've had on me? Others will, no doubt, appreciate the help and know they are not alone. 

I am passionate about finding cures and I am eager to Take Steps because I want the world to see our potential. And I don't want our potential to be hindered by anything outside of our control. We should not be labeled by our disease but instead be encouraged because the hurdle we cross is a mere chapter in our storybook.

I was more than fortunate to have the best family, the best girlfriend, and the best friends on earth when going through the hardest period of my life. If you do not have the support from those around you, then look to the Foundation and the IBD community -- look right here. Who better to be on your side than those of us that have been through similar circumstances?

I am 100% committed to Take Steps. Please join my effort to find cures.


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Want to nominate someone to be an Honored Hero?

Honored Heroes are ambassadors for Take Steps and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation as a whole. As patients and healthcare professionals, they are the voice and face, the heart and soul of our walks. Honored Heroes are nominated annually and help raise awareness of IBD through their promotions and fundraising for Take Steps in their local community. They are dedicated to publicly sharing their story and providing a strong example of progress we are making in the fight against IBD. Their commitment to increasing awareness and revenue by engaging their community, family and friends is truly inspiring. Contact Manager, Derek Dodson, to nominate an Honored Hero today!

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