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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gut it Out: Jake Diekman's Fight Against UC

Here is Jake Diekman Story about how he is fighting against UC.When he's on the mound, Jake Diekman is a force to be reckoned with. During his 2014 season with the Philadelphia Phillies, the left-handed relief pitcher struck out 100 batters -- the seventh most by any major league reliever -- in 71 innings. Externally, at 6-foot-4-inches and 200 pounds, Diekman looks healthy and fit. Internally, he struggles with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that he has lived with for the past 18 years. When Diekman was 11-years-old, he became extremely ill following a family trip to California. His family originally thought he had water poisoning, but two weeks after returning home, he was still sick. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Last year during the off-season, Diekman's ulcerative colitis flared up. While staying at his Nebraska home, he began to feel irritable, overheated, and sluggish. He then lost 20 pounds over two weeks -- a lot for anyone, but especially for a pitcher who depends on his weight to help generate power. Diekman knew he needed to "gut it out" and take control of his disease. "I was like, this is enough, I'm tired of it," Diekman said to The News Journal in February. "It [stinks] to see little kids that have it in the hospital and their bodies can't handle it because their system is so weak that they're in the hospital for three or four months at a time." He had the phrase "Gut It Out" tattooed on the inside of his right wrist and, after speaking with his agent at Beverly Hills Sports Council, worked with Athlete's Brand to design a "Gut It Out" t-shirt. The t-shirts went on sale in March and quickly reached Diekman's fundraising goal of $7,000, with the proceeds going to CCFA. The shirts have raised nearly $9,000 for CCFA to date, and the shirts, which were supposed to be available for a limited time only, are now available from Athlete's Brand through the end of the year. "'Gut It Out' hits home for people with inflammatory bowel disease because of where the disease is located and how debilitating it can be," Diekman says. "Having IBD can be really painful. It's a day-to-day disease you have to deal with. That's why you have to gut it out each day. No matter what your problem is, somebody has it worse. Life could be a lot worse." Diekman's commitment to CCFA extends beyond his t-shirt fundraiser. He started engaging directly with other IBD patients and some lucky patients and supporters joined him for a meet and greet on July 17th, prior to a Phillies game. Many CCFA members attended that game and a portion of the ticket sales was donated back to CCFA. Diekman has organized similar opportunities at other ballparks across the country to benefit CCFA while on the road, including the Colorado Rockies. CCFA's Philadelphia Chapter has also benefited from fantastic donations from Diekman and the Phillies for their local fundraising events. Diekman, who was recently traded to the Texas Rangers, has gained back the weight he lost during the off-season thanks to medication infusions, which he will receive every two months for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately this isn't the end of his battle with ulcerative colitis, as he will live with it for the rest of his life. But as long as he continues to "gut it out," he'll keep pushing forward. Diekman's "Gut It Out" shirts are available for purchase here. You can also find Jake on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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