Gideon Sofer took nothing for granted. At the age of 12 and reduced to just 45 pounds by illness, Gideon was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Facing life with a chronic, debilitating illness at such a young age, Gideon was surprisingly more concerned with his doctors’ lack of knowledge about Crohn’s than with his own condition. This curiosity and motivation to improve Crohn’s awareness has led Gideon to a life of tireless advocacy. Sadly, Gideon Sofer passed away in January 2011, having lived a life committed to making the world a better place for people with Crohn’s.
Around the time he was diagnosed with Crohn's, Gideon started collecting stamps. What was initially just a hobby became a vehicle for activism when Gideon realized the power stamps have to spread awareness. Taking note of the breast cancer and HIV/AIDS stamps featured at the time, Gideon dedicated himself to getting an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) stamp approved.
Several years later, Gideon's health took a turn for the worse. After an extended hospital stay and multiple surgeries, his life was at stake. Approached by the Make-A-Wish Foundation®, Gideon first thought of asking to meet Bruce Springsteen or Michael J. Fox before deciding to use the opportunity to further his cause. Gideon asked to meet the Postmaster General to discuss an IBD stamp. His wish was granted.
Gideon traveled to Washington, DC, and met with Postmaster General John Potter for more than an hour. The postmaster spoke candidly with Gideon, confiding that his brother suffers from a digestive disease similar to Crohn’s. He was so impressed with Gideon that he took him to the World Philatelic Exhibition, the premiere event for stamp collectors, and mentioned Gideon’s efforts on behalf of the Crohn’s and IBD community in his speech.
The positive effects of Gideon’s trip to Washington resonated—he appeared on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and a benefit concert was held at the University of California, Berkeley, where Gideon attended college, to help raise funds for his cause.
Until his passing, Gideon was committed to living each day as if it were his last and remained dedicated in his efforts to produce an IBD stamp. As in many areas of his life, Gideon never gave up the fight.
In Memoriam: Gideon Sofer, 1984-2011