Samantha G., Georgia
Samantha was rushed to the emergency room over Thanksgiving break during her freshman
year. "There was one nurse, in particular, who forever changed my life," said Samantha.
"It was her example that made me decide I would dedicate the rest of my life to
caring for others the way I was cared for." Now a nursing major in her junior year
at Georgia Southern University, Samantha maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA. This past
summer, she worked as a camp counselor at the CCFA's Camp Oasis. Her experience
at camp inspired her to become a Power of Two volunteer to counsel Crohn's patients
and their families. She has also begun training and fundraising for the CCFA's Team
Challenge half marathon in December. As she's battled her condition, she's kept
a positive perspective and is striving to influence others with Crohn's disease.
Her goal is to use her strengths and background with Crohn's disease to encourage
others while she perseveres. "I will continue to learn from this disease and grow
from it, despite the challenges it may bring," said Samantha. "I may have Crohn's,
but I will not allow Crohn's to have me."
Jeremy B., New Jersey
Perseverance. That's been Jeremy's motto since his Crohn's disease diagnosis at
age 8. The setbacks of his condition haven't discouraged him from helping others.
During his middle and high school years, Jeremy endured 3 different surgeries and
missed countless days of school, but he was not discouraged. In fact, he set up
the "Read for Recovery" program, an initiative to help make hospital stays more
enjoyable for children. "I started this service because, when I was a frequent patient,
I was bored and found only a small amount of books to comfort me." So far, his program
has collected nearly 200 books and other entertainment materials for a local hospital.
Now a sophomore at the University of Miami, Jeremy doesn't let his Crohn's disease
limit him. He maintains a positive attitude and strives to make a difference. As
a student manager of the Miami Hurricanes men's basketball team, Jeremy is pursuing
his interest in sports management and enjoying his active participation in his school.
During summers as a Jewish Community Center camp counselor, Jeremy dedicates his
time to working with young children. He's also an advocate for others with Crohn's
disease. In 2009, he joined a local chapter of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation
of America (CCFA) and raised $4,000 for the Take Steps Walk. While pursuing a career
in law or sports management, he hopes to educate his peers and continue his efforts
to raise money for Crohn's disease research. In the future, he wants to be part
of the selection process for the UCB Crohn's Scholarship program. "I am confident that I can accomplish great things during my college years,"
said Jeremy. "I persevere."
Shawn B., Washington
Although Shawn has had Crohn's disease since age 17, she considers herself lucky.
Her mother nearly died from Crohn's disease as a teenager, so Shawn is grateful
to have Crohn's disease at a time when surgery and prayer aren't her only treatment
options. Though she has had 6 surgeries and countless hospitalizations, treatment advances help ensure that Crohn's disease won't stop Shawn from pursuing her
career aspirations. A passion to make cropland more productive has taken her to
Mozambique where she built the country's first agricultural laboratory. From there,
her master's research led Shawn to be awarded a forestry fellowship with the Smithsonian
Institute, and she's now pursuing her PhD in plant physiology at the University
of Washington. Shawn's persistence has enabled her to pursue her dreams and not
let Crohn's disease limit her. "No diagnosis can stand in my way," said Shawn.
Jessie B., New York
Soon after being diagnosed with Crohn's disease, Jessie got the best news of her
life: she had been accepted to Harvard University. But before she could experience
everything that Harvard had to offer, she endured painful battles with Crohn's disease.
Despite spending time at the hospital away from school and friends, the excitement
of starting her Harvard career inspired Jessie. "My acceptance to Harvard and the
promise of a better tomorrow were what kept me going," said Jessie. "I was suddenly
in a rush to get better as soon as possible so I could get back to being me and
start my new life in Cambridge." One week after her release from the hospital and
a week prior to her scheduled surgery, Jessie used this determination to participate
in "Visitas," a 3-day, on-campus visit for incoming freshman. The same week, she
presented her science research project at a state competition. It wasn't easy, but
in doing so, she proved that she could handle almost anything despite her medical
condition. Now a Harvard sophomore, the astrophysics major is excelling. She's an
accomplished cellist participating in Harvard's Mozart Society Orchestra, and she
recently traveled to Africa for a study-abroad program to do research on healthcare
challenges in Western Kenya. She knows that Crohn's disease presents added challenges,
but she's determined to live life to the fullest at Harvard and beyond.
Megan B., New York
Megan uses her own experiences with Crohn's disease to benefit others. At the Memorial
Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), she talks to colon cancer patients who have
also been diagnosed with Crohn's disease. For these patients, Megan is much more
than a friend. She works full time as a liaison between these patients and their
doctors, helping them to be an advocate for their own care. Megan is also pursuing
her master's degree in social work at New York University. Diagnosed with Crohn's
disease 16 years ago, she has overcome numerous hospitalizations and an extensive
surgery. Crohn's disease forced her to take a leave of absence from her undergraduate
education, but she was determined to not let her diagnosis hold her back. Inspired
by the support of her friends and family, she enrolled in a study-abroad program,
earned a perfect 4.0 GPA, and led a week-long outdoor adventure program for college
freshmen. She has committed herself to working with others in need of support. After
finishing her master's, she aims to provide comfort and compassion to others as
a licensed social worker.
Julie F., Illinois
Julie doesn't let her Crohn's disease define her. In fact, she says that Crohn's
disease has made her the person she is today. Diagnosed on her eighth birthday,
she endured multiple surgeries by the time she was 10. Julie understands how a serious
condition like Crohn's disease can affect a child, and she wants to help other children
in similar situations. Before studying to be a pediatric nurse at Northern Illinois
University, she served on the pediatric board at a children's hospital. "With everything
that I've gone through, I have a greater appreciation for other patients with not
only Crohn's disease, but other health issues," said Julie. "It is these experiences
that inspired me to become a nurse." Julie has been putting others before herself
for quite a while. While at Crohn's and Colitis camp, she felt sick and had to leave
early. But despite her illness, Julie came back to camp to show everyone she could
bounce back—and that they could too. She's also involved with the CCFA, raising
over $20,000 to help find a cure and serving as a CCFA youth ambassador. Soon, Julie
will graduate and continue pursuing her goal of helping children with chronic illnesses
to not let their diseases define them.
Emily B., Iowa
Many students with Crohn's disease have to overcome obstacles that those of us without
Crohn's disease could never imagine. Emily not only overcomes the "normal"
obstacles of Crohn's disease she's had to face since age 6; she's also overcome
hurdles to ensure that her dreams and her future meet. From a young age, Emily has
had a strong interest in the Latino community, mentoring Latina youth as a counselor,
tutor, and volunteer. As she considered her future, Emily knew she wanted to be
involved in Latino culture. Emily entered Wartburg College, majoring in Spanish.
As part of her major, Emily needed to spend a semester abroad, but her Crohn's treatment
prevented her from traveling overseas. So in a life of daily obstacles, Emily cleared
another and created her own major: Social Welfare and Hispanic Culture Studies.
It has allowed her to focus on her areas of interest while expanding her goals. "The
world we live in depends on teachers who can accommodate the growing Hispanic population,"
says Emily. And with advances in treatment, Emily is determined to "be a teacher
that travels and teaches in areas of the world that need and deserve teachers who
A'Miracle G., Texas
Crohn's disease changed the dreams of A'Miracle. Despite becoming inexplicably ill at an international swimming competition in Germany, the Olympic hopeful returned home well-decorated with 6 first-place and 2 second-place medals. Four months later, she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. After 10 months of treatment, her doctors told her that it
would be physically impossible to compete and train for the Olympics. But the heartbreak
didn't last long, as A'Miracle was inspired to instead develop her singing talent.
She's currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in music and wants to continue helping others by using her music to do so.
A'Miracle founded "I Am Not Forgotten,"
an organization that plans birthday parties for siblings of chronically ill patients.
After finishing her undergraduate degree, she plans to pursue a master's degree
in philanthropy and aims to raise funds to develop and start music therapy programs
in hospitals. A'Miracle said, "My new lifelong companion, Crohn's, introduced me
to a vehicle [my voice] that ushered me to embrace my passion, which revealed my
Shabnam G., Georgia
Shabnam's personal experiences in the clinical setting have inspired her to become
a doctor. Diagnosed with Crohn's disease at the age of 8, Shabnam states that "My
GI [gastrointestinal] specialist's captivating personality and my nurses' relentless compassion ignited
the flame that would lead me to medical school." Shabnam recently graduated from
Georgia Institute of Technology with a 3.9 GPA in biomedical engineering. There,
she conducted extensive research on the hemodynamic effects of transcatheter aortic
valve implants and bicuspid aortic valve disease, illustrating her passion for combining
engineering with medicine. Shabnam is currently pursuing her medical degree at Emory
University School of Medicine. In her spare time, she enjoys international travel,
realizing the impact of her actions on others. After a typhoon in the Philippines,
Shabnam volunteered her services to the local community by encouraging proper hygiene
and providing food and drinking water. Shabnam views Crohn's disease as a foundation,
providing her with the tools for genuinely understanding patients' concerns and
providing them the care and reassurance she would like to see in her own treatment.
Shabnam truly wants others to achieve their goals despite their health problems.
"These experiences have confirmed that being a doctor will combine my interest,
passion, and desire to serve humanity through medicine," said Shabnam. It was this
intensity that bolstered her decision to co-found a MEDLIFE service organization
dedicated to providing medical and educational support to low-income families in
Peru, Ecuador, and Panama. With her extensive clinical experience and determination
to make a difference, she'll make a substantial impact while pursuing her life's
Alexa G., New York
Crohn's disease hits home for Alexa as both her younger brother and sister have
the condition. After being diagnosed with Crohn's disease in the sixth grade, Alexa
was determined to continue to participate in gymnastics, soccer, and cheerleading.
She also found time to raise money to help others with Crohn's disease and find
a cure. The year following her diagnosis, Alexa started a team that raised $5,000
for the CCFA's Take Steps Walk. Her resolve inspired others and, in just 7 years,
her team raised more than $150,000. "There was no way I was
going to allow Crohn's to define me," said Alexa. "It did, however, help shape me
to be a determined and compassionate person." This compassion and determination
are evident as she maintains a 3.6 GPA and Dean's List status her freshman year
at the University of Michigan. She's also giving back with her involvement in the
Crohn's and Colitis Student Initiative, a student-run support group that provides
a forum to help students with digestive diseases. The passion to help others serves
her well considering she is studying nursing. "As a nurse, I plan to use my own
experiences to help patients get well, feel well, and live beyond their boundaries
Jessi H., California
Crohn's disease has provided the direction for Jessi to pursue in her life. Diagnosed
just 2 days before her sixteenth birthday, she discovered how she could learn from
her experiences and shape others. "Through my gradual acceptance of my own struggles,
I have found my calling to help others work through theirs," said Jessi. As a freshman
at Brown University, she has focused her attention on becoming a psychologist or
a clinical psychiatrist. "The knowledge that I have acquired on my road to remission
has provided me with motivation to make a difference for those around me," said
Jessi. This includes her twin sister, who was diagnosed nearly a year before Jessi,
as well as others with Crohn's disease. Hired by the CCFA to work as an intern,
Jessi is committed to spreading awareness of this condition. She has been instrumental
in recruiting vendors and local event organizations and today remains actively involved
on the CCFA Logistics Committee. Her personal experiences with Crohn's disease highlight
a passion to help others. "I will not let Crohn's inhibit me from accomplishing
everything I have in store for myself," said Jessi. "Rather, I will use what I have
endured as impetus to continue making changes in my community."
Nikki H., California
Nikki's grandfather inspired her to learn from her Crohn's disease diagnosis and
see it as a blessing in disguise. "It took several months, but Crohn's disease no
longer ran my life and determined my future," said Nikki. "Instead, I did." After
graduating high school in the top 1 percent of her class, Nikki is now pursuing
medicine at Brown University and hopes to become a pediatrician. She is gaining
experience as a volunteer at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Child Life Services
department of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Health System. Like
her twin sister who also has Crohn's disease, Nikki is active in the CCFA. She works
with the Logistics Committee for the Take Steps Walk, planning events in the Los
Angeles area. She also helps youth with Crohn's disease get involved in the foundation.
Nikki has a drive and passion to help others. She helps patients through her gift
of music in a program called "Music for Healing." And as a pediatrician, she looks
forward to helping children even more. "Crohn's disease showed me what it means
to be strong, happy, and healthy," said Nikki. "It sparked my desire to become a
pediatrician, and revealed to me the uncertainty of existence and wellness. I want
to change lives one diagnosis at a time."
Philip H., Illinois
It is one thing to have an experience influence you; it's another thing to have
an experience redefine your life path. For Philip, Crohn's disease did exactly that.
With a strong interest in the sciences, Philip entered college with his sights set
on being a research scientist. But during his freshman year, Philip was diagnosed
with Crohn's disease. With help from his teachers and hospital medical staff, Philip
managed to continue his college studies despite his diagnosis—all from his hospital
bed. It was here that Philip's life changed its course. "I realized that the manner
in which physicians treat and communicate with patients is equally as important
as the science behind the medicine." Philip decided to pursue a career in medicine
where he could use his interest in science to help patients overcome or live with
their conditions. Since earning his undergraduate degree, Philip has enrolled in
medical school at Northwestern University and also volunteers at medical clinics
and youth programs, continuing to immerse himself further in the medical field.
"I am eager to continue my pursuit of becoming a doctor and will strive to become
the type of physician I met and admired while I was dealing with my illness."
Tara H., New Jersey
Determination is what sets Tara apart. Just months after being diagnosed with Crohn's
disease at 15, Tara formed a team and participated in her first CCFA walk. It wasn't
long, though, before her Crohn's disease got worse. Tara endured 4 surgeries during
her junior and senior years of high school, but she was determined to keep up her
schoolwork. Tara says, "I juggled tutors, SAT and ACT practice tests, doctor's appointments,
infusions, and medical tests. I was not going to let Crohn's take away my dream
of getting into a good college." Keeping up her grades was not all Tara had her
mind set on. She was also focused on helping others. When she was physically incapable
of going out and volunteering, she found ways to help from home. She used her computer
to organize another team to participate in the CCFA Walk in addition to regularly
preparing sandwiches for the homeless and delivering them to a nearby church. Despite
a number of absences her senior year, Tara was accepted to New York University.
After college, Tara hopes to work in the television or film industry. "I know that,
at times, Crohn's may slow me down, but it will never stop me from achieving my
Charlotte J., Arizona
Helping others has been a lifelong passion for Charlotte. At age 5, she emptied
her piggy bank to help a young mother feed her children. Throughout the years, she
continued to volunteer with the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. But at
age 10, Charlotte started experiencing headaches, daily fatigue, and other GI
symptoms. Not wanting to burden her mother, Charlotte kept this to herself—for 4
years. Unable to hide her condition any longer, Charlotte finally shared her symptoms
and was initially diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Unfortunately, her condition
continued to worsen, and in her mid 20s, Charlotte was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.
Her endurance and fight to overcome these diseases is truly inspiring. Charlotte
not only persevered through surgeries and other medical procedures, blood transfusions,
and medications; she succeeded, all while simultaneously working and earning her
undergraduate degree in communications and marketing. And in her continuing effort
to help others, she's currently pursuing a master's degree in healthcare administration
to become an advocate for the ill and voiceless. Writing the scholarship essay was
uncomfortable, as it forced Charlotte to focus on herself. However, the desire to
help others ultimately prevailed. "After writing the first paragraph, I realized
that without my story, you would never know about my dedication to increase human
kindness, and my desire to encourage and influence others."
Andrew K., New York
Imagine you're a smart, athletic, 14-year-old high school freshman. Then imagine
you start to develop joint pain, anemia, fevers, and a near constant need to use
the bathroom. Doctors had no explanation. Imagine test upon test, and then, when
you're finally diagnosed with Crohn's disease, imagine a great sense of relief.
That's what Andrew felt—relief that his health problems were finally identified.
But despite the relief, Andrew's condition worsened to the point that he couldn't
attend school, play sports, or even keep food in his body. So how did Andrew attack
this obstacle? He made the difficult decision to have surgery and rid himself of
Crohn's disease. It was a decision that his mother wasn't sold on, but Andrew is
not one to let anything hold him back. "In my opinion," says Andrew, "the only thing
that mattered was regaining my health so I could do the things I enjoyed and move
on with my life." Just a month and a half after surgery, Andrew was back at school
and playing sports. And the support he'd received inspired him to help others. He
volunteered locally, rebuilding houses for the needy, tutoring children, and raising
money for cancer research. Now Andrew will take his indomitable spirit to Binghamton
University where there's no doubt he'll be a success. For Andrew, there's no other
Michael K., Virginia
As a freshman in high school, Michael was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. But he
didn't let that stand in the way of his dreams. "I vowed not to let my new diagnosis
define my life or aspirations." In fact, after his hospitalization, Michael chose
to go to a more rigorous school than before. He excelled at his classes and also
found time to volunteer at a local nursing home and tutor younger students in math.
When his Crohn's disease flared again during his freshman year of college, Michael
was forced to take incompletes in all his classes. But when he came back the next
semester, he made up all of these classes while taking a full course load and earning
a perfect 4.0 GPA. While in college, Michael also co-founded the Campaign for Adolescent
and University Student Empowerment, one of the largest youth empowerment resource
centers in the country. That same dedication to helping others drove Michael to
take part in the CCFA's Team Challenge and Take Steps programs. Now Michael is a
teacher, a career that allows him to continue inspiring others. He says, "Teaching
has allowed me to feel as though I have gotten back on track with helping people
and making a difference in this world."
Elizabeth M., New York
Elizabeth was diagnosed with Crohn's disease as a sophomore in high school. After
her diagnosis, she was self-conscious about the stigma associated with being chronically
ill. But as she moved forward, her confidence came back and she overcame the limitations
of the condition. "My experiences with Crohn's have certainly shaped me, but by
no means does my disease define me," said Elizabeth. "This awareness was crucial
in achieving my personal triumph of 2010." This achievement was her completion of
a half marathon, which included fundraisers that brought in more than $3,000 for
the CCFA. The race was not only a physical challenge, but also an emotional one
where Elizabeth shared her experiences with teammates. The experience helped her
realize the amount of support that was available for her and others with Crohn's
disease. Since this time, Elizabeth has continued to tackle new challenges. She
is currently pursuing a graduate degree at Columbia University while working in
the healthcare field. "My hope is that this graduate program will help bridge my
experience in clinical research with my career goal of conducting clinical trials
as a physician-scientist," said Elizabeth.
Sienna M., California
The show must go on. Despite a diagnosis of Crohn's disease when she was 6, Sienna
has become an accomplished performer—acting, singing, and playing piano, among other
talents. She has appeared in over 25 musicals, 10 films, and made 4 television appearances,
including a Disney commercial. It was through theatre that Sienna discovered her
love of graphic design. She's now at UCLA where she is pursuing an education in
the field of design and media arts with an advertising emphasis. Although she's
dedicated to pursuing her dreams, Crohn's disease has brought some challenges. After
undergoing surgery at the end of her freshman year, Sienna was forced to leave school
and begin home schooling. "Upon my return to school, I hit the ground running and
I have not stopped since," said Sienna. She was not just active in the entertainment
industry; she was also a leader at her school and in the community. Sienna served
as senior class president and producer of her school's daily live news broadcast
while carrying a 4.3 GPA and earning the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award. "I desire
to learn and excel in all my endeavors," said Sienna. "Crohn's disease does not
define me, nor does it inhibit me from achieving anything I choose. Facing and managing
this obstacle has made my world, my dreams, boundless." With Sienna, the show always
Caitlin O., Michigan
Determination. This is the epitome of Caitlin. Crohn's disease has presented challenges
for Caitlin since she was diagnosed at age 4. However, it didn't stop her from participating
in numerous activities including sports, dance, and theatre. "It wasn't until I
reached college that I realized what an impact living with Crohn's disease could
and did have on my life," said Caitlin. Caitlin had just started her sophomore year
when a major wound from a previous surgery began to flare up. Despite numerous attempts
to alleviate her pain and suffering, her condition became progressively worse and
she was forced to leave school. "Despite everything, I didn't give up," said Caitlin.
"I couldn't give up." After a year and a half, Caitlin returned to school with an
effective treatment plan and an understanding that she wanted to become a pediatric
nurse. Today, she's excited to finish her classes at Hope College and move into
a field where she can make a difference. "I've already lost time as a result of
my disease, but with this renewed sense of hope and movement towards health, I am
so ready to share myself, my experiences, and my skills. I know I can make a difference
for a sick child and the family that supports them, and I want to do just that."
She's determined to do so.
Gary O., Connecticut
"Yes" is the word that moves dreams to reality. In fact, the letters in Gary's name
describe the person he has become: Giving, Action, Resilient, and Yes. The same
year he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, Gary was selected to travel to South
Africa with National Geographic. After returning, Gary was inspired to give back
to these communities that needed help. He sponsored a school-wide drive that collected
school supplies, sporting equipment, and clothes for schools in Zimbabwe. "Imagine
finding a feeling so powerful, it overcomes pain," said Gary. "Of course, I wanted
to do it again. This time, I knew the key word for success—Action." During his freshman
year, Gary and his best friend started "H2Africa," a club to raise $14,000 for a
water pump in South Africa. Nestlé® liked the presentation so much that they contributed
$7,000 to the goal. Thanks to the efforts, 2,500 people in a South African village
now have drinking water. Crohn's disease has enabled Gary to be resilient. After
surgery, Gary missed 3 months of school and his doctor suggested a nutritional therapy.
Gary stuck to a nonsolid-food regimen and has since become healthier. In fact, his
doctor was so impressed by the improvement that Gary was recommended to present
the benefits of nutritional therapy to congress. "I've learned that nothing can
happen if you say ‘No'," said Gary. "But, the Y in my name is key to everything.
‘Yes' is a small word that I learned makes the biggest difference in life."
Luke P., Oregon
Just 2 months after having his colon removed, Luke was back on the baseball field
starting at second base for his high school's junior varsity team. Luke continued
with school and even sports despite the challenges that he faced with Crohn's disease.
"As inconvenient as these experiences may have been, to me they were simply a part
of everyday life and never seemed to be more than I could handle," said Luke. Even
when his health was at its worst, Luke only missed a few days of school and managed
to become his high school's valedictorian. He's kept that commitment to academic
excellence at Westmont College where he maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA. Luke plans
on pursuing his master's in biomedical or mechanical engineering and would like
to work to provide a better life for the underprivileged and disadvantaged. Luke
is also a member of his college's ultimate Frisbee club and works part-time as a
production assistant for his school's sports television network. Luke sets no boundaries
on what he can accomplish. "My ileostomy is not something I am ashamed of, but rather
a daily reminder of who I am and how much I can overcome," said Luke. "In the end,
my past experiences and current journey empower me to not only shape my own destiny
but also to positively impact the destiny of those around me."
Ashton R., California
Ashton was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 10. "For me, it was and is never
about being a patient; it's about living my life to the fullest and never holding
my disease responsible for missing out on one thing or another," said Ashton. Empowerment
has been her key to finding her own success and helping others to do the same. As
a junior at UCLA with a strong GPA, she works to empower others. On the local level,
she has created support groups and a forum for UCLA students with Crohn's disease
and ulcerative colitis to meet monthly and share their experiences. She is also
a member of the CCFA's National Youth Leadership Council. Additionally, Ashton is
making an impact internationally as she was chosen to lead the Jacobs International
Teen Leadership Institute (JITLI), a dialogue and cultural awareness initiative that
brings together Jews and Muslims from the United States and Israel for a year-long
program that culminates with a trip to Israel. "Despite my fears of being in a foreign
country and the necessity to embrace such a great sense of responsibility, I refused
to let my Crohn's stand in the way of such a compelling experience," said Ashton.
"Discovering my sense of empowerment has been essential to actively creating the
life I choose to live. I have chosen to let Crohn's disease be a part of my definition,
but I vowed to never let it define me."
Sara S., Minnesota
For Sara, Crohn's disease wasn't the start of her medical issues. Sara already had
a kidney transplant and blood transfusions before her Crohn's diagnosis. But despite
these serious medical occurrences, she refused to let them bring her down. "Although
difficult, being diagnosed with Crohn's disease was simply another way for me to
persevere through the difficult times and find a way to make the best out of it
in the long run," said Sara. The Crohn's disease flare ups have happened at some
of the worst times for Sara: she needed emergency surgery the morning of her sophomore
year prom and was forced to go to the emergency room while on a school trip to Spain.
"On the surface, these experiences seem close to terrible, but I have become a stronger
person through my trials," said Sara. "Everyone seems to have their own way of dealing
with difficult times in life, and my outlet is helping others." Sara is a regular
volunteer at the Gift of Life Transplant House and the Ronald McDonald House and
hopes to continue helping others in her pursuit of a career in healthcare. "Crohn's
disease has helped fire my desire to comfort others during their times of need,"
said Sara. "As I look on to college and my future, I do not see Crohn's disease
limiting me; I see it motivating me. I want to positively impact young lives like
so many doctors and nurses have impacted mine."
Molly S., Florida
Medicine is the driving force in Molly's life. Diagnosed with Crohn's disease as
a high school sophomore, Molly found herself hospitalized with complications 4 different
times over a 3-month time span. But while she was at the hospital, she oddly found
herself longing to be back in that environment. Molly realized that she wanted to
help other patients with Crohn's disease and become a colorectal surgeon. Selected
to participate in a 6-week summer scholar program at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida,
Molly shadowed a team of doctors and nurses and had the opportunity to interact
with patients. "My patients looked to me for guidance and support, which I proudly
delivered," said Molly. "I wanted nothing more than for them to begin the remission
process like me. Now I know surgery is my calling." Her next stop on the path to
becoming a surgeon is at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. Despite
the impact that Crohn's disease can have, Molly would not let it stop her from being
her best. She served as Editor-in-Chief of her school's award-winning yearbook,
was production coordinator for the American Sign Language concert for the deaf,
and graduated fifth in her class with a 5.2 GPA. "These events weave the fabric
of my life," said Molly. "I was not going to let a disease take my passions away.
With this illness, I am pushed to my boundaries every day. However, I have learned
to control my Crohn's and will not let Crohn's control me."
Zachary T., North Carolina
After being diagnosed with Crohn's disease, Zachary was told that it wouldn't be
wise for him to travel on a mission trip to Nicaragua. Zachary was discouraged as
the trip was already paid for. "I was not willing to take ‘no' as an answer for
my life and decided to be proactive and do whatever I could to live a full life
with Crohn's disease," said Zachary. He is well on his way as he is maintaining
a 3.9 GPA while studying architecture at the University of North Carolina (UNC),
Charlotte. As impressive as this is, Zachary's gifts extend beyond his academic
prowess. He is committed to helping others. As an accomplished pianist, Zachary
uses his gift of music to inspire others. He routinely performs at a local hospital
for patients and their families and also teaches theatre and music in his community.
Zachary has joined an on-campus organization that mentors students on academic probation,
and as a member of the Arts and Architecture Honors program, he is currently preparing
his senior thesis. This thesis goes above and beyond words on a certain topic. He
is completing all facets of a musical set in 1913, titled "Parade," of which all proceeds
will benefit the CCFA. "I will be able to not only raise money to find a cure for
Crohn's, but also to raise awareness on my university campus for student's living
with Crohn's and its impact on our educational studies."
Eitan T., Massachusetts
Eitan was diagnosed with Crohn's disease during his sophomore year of high school.
"My diagnosis has sparked a fierce sense of independence within me, and I remain
determined to prove that, while reliant on the support of my parents and doctors,
I can still achieve success purely on my own," said Eitan. Despite the prolonged
symptoms and medical demands, Eitan maintained a full honors course load while playing
varsity baseball and basketball. "Sports serve a dual purpose in life, providing
me with an outlet to release my emotions, but also helping to cultivate in me an
enthusiasm for writing and journalism that I will continue to pursue in college,"
said Eitan. His writing has already opened doors. He secured internships with NewEnglandPrepStars.com
and Dime Magazine, and his feature-length probe on student-athlete tutoring programs
was picked up by ESPNBoston.com. He is taking his talents to Duke University where
he plans on pursuing a degree in anthropology and history. Eitan also enjoys helping
others, especially children, serving as a counselor and youth basketball coach at
Camp Oasis. "I constantly find myself learning from the children I interact
with, and look forward to becoming a stronger member of the IBD [inflammatory bowel
disease] community and to adopting new strategies for dealing with my condition",
said Eitan. "In addition to a renewed sense of purpose, battling Crohn's has instilled
in me a strong desire to help others, especially children, gain confidence and fulfillment
within their own lives."
Ashley W., Illinois
Ashley is an advocate for patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
But it wasn't always that way. When Ashley was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in
eighth grade, it was difficult to process. Despite the relief of knowing what was
wrong with her, she felt embarrassed. It was a feeling she struggled with throughout
high school as she dealt with flare ups. Then she learned that she would need a
permanent ostomy. After struggling with the stigma of Crohn's disease, Ashley did
research and found a supportive community of patients that helped her feel more
open about her condition. Now, Ashley sees having Crohn's disease as an opportunity.
She has dedicated herself to raising awareness. In college, Ashley created a 4-week
advocacy project and raised money for her local chapter of the CCFA. She plans to
continue this advocacy in her career as a registered dietitian. As a Crohn's disease
patient herself, she will be able to bring empathy and understanding to others struggling
with the disease. "I want to be my patients' support and encouragement through their
tough time," Ashley says. "Sometimes, the healthcare environment can be overwhelming
and I want to create a positive climate for all my patients."
Nick W., Kentucky
Working in law enforcement requires a special level of sacrifice and strength of
character not everyone possesses. When you hear Nick's story, you'll see no doubt
that he'll make an exceptional law officer. Nick was diagnosed with Crohn's disease
in the sixth grade. Each day, he has endured the intense pain and treatment that
comes with Crohn's disease. Yet his determination to lead a normal life has amazed
nearly everyone—except Nick. "I don't dwell on [my illness]; I just accept it as
part of life and trudge on with my day." Two important parts of Nick's day are his
education and raising Crohn's disease awareness. Nick has achieved a 3.5 GPA and
belongs to the Beta Club and National Honor Society at the University of Louisville.
He's had all of these achievements despite working through flare ups, surgeries,
and other treatments. Nick was also named the CCFA's Honored Hero at the Walk for
the Cure, where his team raised more than $5,000. "It feels good to know I made
a contribution in defeating this disease that plagues me every day." Since he was
young, Nick has dreamt of becoming an FBI agent. This scholarship would help him
achieve this dream, and, in Nick's words, "be confirmation that I can make it in college,
and that Crohn's cannot stop me from doing what I want to do in life."
Raeanna W., Alaska
Crohn's disease has been part of Raeanna's life since she was 8 years old, but she
hasn't let it keep her from pursuing her passion. "Since I first enrolled in kindergarten,
dancing has been my passion. This activity has seen me through every turbulent turn
of my disease since I was first diagnosed." That was especially true when Raeanna's
condition grew worse in the eighth grade, requiring multiple surgeries and a 3-month
hospitalization. Raeanna was slowly able to return to dancing and was subsequently
accepted into her studio's student dance company. However, dance is not Raeanna's
only love; she's also passionate about history. She loves nothing better than curling
up with a cup of tea and a historical documentary. Ultimately, she wants to nurture
her interest in history and become an archaeologist. Of her decision, Raeanna says,
"I wanted to be able to touch history. I wanted to be able to pull it from the earth
with my own 2 hands." While her interest in dance and history keeps her busy, Raeanna
has still found time to help others. She has walked and raised money for the CCFA's
Take Steps program. She's also been a Leader-in-Training at the CCFA's Camp Oasis
where she supports and encourages younger patients.
Sofia Z., Connecticut
As Sofia knows very well, it can be hard to start a new school. Not only was she
starting a new school, but in a new country altogether as she had recently moved to
the United States from Switzerland. Just before starting her sophomore year at her
new school, Sofia was hospitalized and diagnosed with Crohn's disease. But she didn't
let her diagnosis stop her. She worked hard, getting good grades and making up missed
work to move to the top of her class, even when she had to take time off for surgery.
She also found time to participate in the CCFA's Take Steps Walk and volunteer at
a local nursing home. Today, Sofia is attending Boston College where she plans to
major in marketing. Despite her struggles with Crohn's disease, Sofia has been able
to find positives in having the disease. She's learned her strengths and weaknesses
and found inspiration for her art. "Most of all," Sofia says, "I now have a better
appreciation of my friends and family. The way they've shown their support…makes
me smile as I know that I am surrounded by people who truly care for me."