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Friday, March 24, 2017

TEAMMATE SPOTLIGHT: Jill & Clark

This Month I'm going to take a moment to shine a light on a Mom and her son Clark who are apart of our Team Challenge Family hears there story. OUR JOURNEY with ulcerative colitis started in the spring of 2011. Clark was only 4 years old, and was having episodes of digestive problems that would come and go. After ruling out other causes, Clark had his first colonoscopy and we got the life-altering diagnosis. My husband and I had never heard of the disease and were told it would be treated with medication. We thought, “Oh great! We'll give him some medicine and he will be good.” WRONG! On that HOT Texas summer day we got in the front row of the IBD roller coaster, and it is a ride we will be on for the rest of Clark’s life! For a while his medications seemed to be working. His symptoms decreased, the blood in his stool went away, and he was essentially back to normal. Then, Clark would have a growth spurt and we would start all over. He has been on round after round of steroids and has been on several different medications. As a parent, you want to be able to “fix it” when your kids are sick or hurt. You want to be able to kiss it and make it better or put a band-aid on the boo boo and help them heal. We can’t do that with IBD. I remember feeling so helpless at one of his doctor’s appointments, and it must have shown on my face because she wrote a prescription for ME! She told me to go online and join the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation - and that was the best advise anyone could have ever given me. Shortly after that, I saw a flyer for Team Challenge. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a fan of running. In fact, I can honestly say I HATE running! But as I sat in the informational meeting it occurred to me that running may be my only way to help my child. I signed up for the race, laced up my running shoes, and hit the pavement. Since then, I have participated in 3 Team Challenge half marathons. We have met an amazing group of people who have become our family and support group. They rejoice with us when Clark gets a great test result, and cry with us when he is flaring or has a setback. Clark has been a team honoree for 3 seasons and he LOVES being involved by going to the training sessions and handing out water. It helps him see that there are so many people who have the same thing he has who are running, walking, and fundraising to help find a cure. Team Challenge has taught Clark to be an advocate for himself and get the word out about Crohn’s and colitis. He has become very educated on his disease and has expressed a desire to become a doctor or scientist when he grows up so he can help find cures. We are so lucky that up until this point we have been able to maintain Clark’s colitis with medication, and unlike several of our teammates, he has not needed to go through surgery or hospital stays. But we know there is always a chance that those two things are in our future. Having this in our minds is always incentive to want to do more, raise more, and keep running with Team Challenge. This year Clark joined the team himself and crossed the finish line at the Rock ‘n' Roll New Orleans 10k - 10 days after he turned 10 years old! He loved being part of the team and our family loved getting to cheer him on. Because of Team Challenge, he has taken a proactive approach to ensuring he has a healthy future and has an amazing support group behind him. Joining Team Challenge has been one of the best things that could have happened to our family and we are so thankful for everything it does! We hope you join us in the fight for cures.

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