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A walk for guts today, glory tomorrow

by Nicole Tomlinson / contributor

When functioning normally, our immune systems fight for our health. But for one in 150 Canadians with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), this system has gone rogue, inexplicably causing the body to attack itself.

It’s a battle that leads to ulcers, internal bleeding, and razor-sharp pain.

Those afflicted with IBD face exhaustion, depression and physical suffering.

One in 20 will be hospitalized this year. It’s a disease on the rise, striking Canadians more often than any other country in the world. And it’s targeting the young.

Sam Briggs is one of an estimated 5,900 Canadian children living with IBD, which includes Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Now 11 years old, Sam was diagnosed with Crohn’s last year.

And like an estimated 233,000 Canadians, he’s discovered it’s a life-changer. He frequently misses school because he’s in acute pain, and spent last year’s baseball season on the bench.

He’s had to learn to feed himself through a tube because when the inflammation gets bad, he can’t eat, sometimes for weeks.

Sam isn’t a teenager yet, but he’s already 47-per-cent more likely to die prematurely than those without IBD. With one of the highest rates of childhood-onset IBD in the world, more Canadian children join him each day.

British Columbia is on the forefront of IBD research, a disease that is more common in Canada than HIV or multiple sclerosis. As of today, IBD’s cause – and cure – remain a mystery, burdening the Canadian health care system and costing taxpayers an estimated $2.8 billion a year.

The 2013 Gutsy Walk benefitting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC) aims to change the tide. Now in its 17th year, funds raised at the event support researchers, healthcare providers, patients and their loved ones in a bid to conquer IBD and live healthy, happy lives.

“The Gutsy Walk is a great way to spread awareness of IBD and raise much-needed funds to support essential research,” says Mavreen David, CCFC Chapter Development Coordinator. “The more people get involved, the more steps we will take towards curing this growing disease once and for all.”

The Surrey Gutsy Walk takes place on June 9 at Bear Creek Park. From now until the walk, critical fundraising efforts will be in full gear. People can register a team for the walk and raise funds, or donate to the cause directly.

For more information, visit  www.gutsywalk.ca

To learn more about Sam, check him out on YouTube: http://youtu.be/t3T2Ek8AePA

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