Category: Team Challenge

Team Challenge: Running for Family

I’ve always been very open about my struggles with Ulcerative Colitis…it sucks, big time! In 2012, I ran with Team Challenge and helped to raise money to support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  When Jessica reached out to me to let me know she was doing the same thing this year, I was thrilled!  It’s a wonderful racing team to be a part of and any bit of fundraising helps.  She offered to share her story on why she is running this year…  

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I’m so honored to write a blog post for Sarah. I’ve followed her Running at Disney blog since the beginning. I read a few years ago about her experience running the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon and was very inspired. Little did I know, that I would have a personal reason to be a part of Team Challenge so soon.

I started running seriously in 2009 training for the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Since then, I have run 16 other half marathons and 6 full marathons including 2 Goofy Race and a Half Challenges, Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon and the Dopey Challenge this past January. The half marathon I am running this July will be the most meaningful one of them all. I am running the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon on July 20th for Team Challenge. Team Challenge raises money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

Until a few years ago I had no idea what Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis (UC) were. That changed forever in 2012. Ever since the birth of my nephew in 2010, my sister had been having trouble with cramping, diarrhea, and other intestinal issues on and off. By the summer of 2012, she had made so many trips to the emergency room, she lost count. Her Gastrointestinal Doctor diagnosed her with UC and planned on starting medicines to start trying to reduce the flares. In August, my family was scheduled to come to Atlanta for my baby shower from Maryland and right before the trip, my sister got a bunch of sores in her mouth. ANOTHER trip to the ER ended with the diagnosis of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and she was sent home with some “magic mouthwash”.

She didn’t make the trip to my baby shower with the rest of my family and by the time my mom got home to her, she was very malnourished and not improving at all. One call to the GI doctor later and they were back on their way to the hospital. This time she was admitted.

Elizabeth before her life saving surgery

Elizabeth before her life saving surgery

The placement of her PICC line, intending to give her nutrition and medicine saved her life. The x-ray to double check the placement of the PICC line showed that her large intestine had already perforated in multiple places. The doctor said if she was at home much longer, she wouldn’t have made it to the hospital. Getting the call from my dad that she was headed into emergency surgery to have her entire Large Intestine removed was the scariest call of my life.

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A few days after surgery

That same night I was searching the internet for support groups and stumbled upon the Team Challenge Website. A running group that fundraises for the disease that almost just took my sister from me? This is what I needed to do. So this past January, I went to a meeting and was so excited about the wonderful things CCFA does! Their mission is: To cure Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, and to improve the lives of children and adults affected by these diseases.

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My sister and I

Crohn’s and Colitis hit my family twice that year. My uncle was diagnosed with UC in the spring of 2012 and also ended up having an emergency colectomy. He now has a J-pouch and has his Colitis under control.

The great news is that my sister is on the road to recovery and living her life to the fullest. She is an amazing mom and enjoys spending every moment with her son Emmett.

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In fact she even started running herself!  She completed the Disney Family Fun Run 5k over Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend this past January.  

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I am so thrilled to contribute in my small way toward this wonderful cause. I want my sister, uncle and all of the other people I’ve met to find a cure and live full, healthy lives.  If you want to donate, please go to my Team Challenge fundraising page. Thank you so much, the money goes to such a good cause.

If you want to read my sister’s adventure through Crohn’s, Colitis and her ostomy, her blog is at mamasgotastoma.blogspot.com 

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Jessica lives in Marietta, GA with her husband, 1 and 1/2 year old daughter and three crazy dogs. She runs to have a few quiet moments to herself and keep herself sane. Jessica’s favorite full marathon was the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon and favorite half marathon was an epic adventure with friends running the Wine and Dine in 2013.  Follow her on twitter here: @jesscutler.

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Big thanks to Jessica for sharing her family’s struggles with UC and for supporting CCFA to find a cure.  These are really hard subjects to talk about, but the more we do talk about them, the more awareness that will be created.

If you want to learn more about Crohn’s and Colitis, head on over to www.ccfa.org for more information and please consider supporting Jessica…she even has some fun things in store for your donation.

  • $10: She will send you a Blue rubber bracelet that shows your support of the Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis foundation of America.
  • $50: She will write your name on the back of her jersey to share your support with everyone. 
  • $100: You can sponsor a mile of her race.
  • $200: She will make a “flat Stanley” character of you and take pictures along the course and send them to you after the race.  

Thanks again for the support and one day we will find a cure!!

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