Students Connect and Fundraise to Combat Diseases

Liam O'Brien, Staff Reporter

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Two chronic diseases that are sometimes talked about in whispers plague many people. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are inflammatory bowel diseases that cause long-lasting inflammation and possibly ulcers in the digestive tract.

Trinity students Jack and Zach are among the many affected by those diseases daily.

Jack was officially diagnosed with UC when he was just 10 years old. His great aunt has Crohn’s as well.

Jack said, “I have increased fatigue, I go to the bathroom way more, and have some food restrictions.”

He has to avoid many spices, spicy food in general and lettuce.  Jack said, “Sometimes it hurts so bad that it hurts to get out of bed.”

When Jack was first diagnosed, he was hospitalized at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, later in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  He has had a total of four colonoscopies, three endoscopies, and two CAT scans.   

Sometimes it hurts so bad that it hurts to get out of bed.”

— Jack discussing UC

“Usually at every six weeks, I have my infusions. It starts to hurt a lot at five and a half weeks,” Jack said.

Jack goes to a camp in Michigan called Camp Oasis, which starts Aug. 1 every year and lasts a week.  The camp is for kids living with Crohn’s and UC.

Jack said, “We go kayaking, canoeing and do archery. My favorite activity at camp is paddle-boarding.

“I don’t want any kids to deal with what I had to deal with.  It has been a very rough experience.”

Jack said there is a Take Steps walk in Louisville that starts at Louisville Slugger on June 1.

When talking about the walk, Jack displayed a sense of humor about his condition. He said, “I have my own team called the JP’s Porcelain Punishers.  If you register for this team, you can help raise money for Crohn’s and UC.”

Jack also does a kickball tournament fundraiser.  He said, “Each base has a $50 sponsorship.”

People who attend may win a gift card at the kickball fundraiser, which will be held Apr. 27.

People can visit JP’s Porcelain Punishers Facebook page for more information.

Jack tries not to let the disease stop him from activities at school. A wrestler, Jack said, “It is very fun.  When I was first diagnosed, it was very hard and exhausting for me to play sports. It is still hard but I am very happy it is under control.”

Zach, who moved to Louisville from Connecticut, said, “I was diagnosed with Crohn’s in April of 2017. No one related to me has anything like Crohn’s.”

Crohn’s limits what Zach can do and eat.  He said, “I can’t exercise that much, and when I do exercise, it has to be a specific workout.”

Zach’s body cannot take in the right nutrients from foods.  He can’t eat anything with too much protein because his body can’t take it all in.  He said, “I have to avoid any foods with high acidic levels, like tomatoes, and any dairy products. I should stay away from any food that isn’t organic.”

Zach was originally hospitalized at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, where he had three MRI’s, three colonoscopies and three endoscopies.

A powerlifter for a while, Zach said, “Ms. (Mary Ann) Hall helps me with my appointments for Crohn’s disease.”

He has to travel to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for anything relating to Crohn’s.

Hall, Trinity’s Learning Support Program director, has worked with several students with Crohn’s disease. She said, “Sadly, some of them don’t join clubs because of their concern.”

In Hall’s experience, all the students with Crohn’s miss time in class and suffer from increased fatigue.

Hall said, “There is a need for them to be connected and not alone. I want them to see it not as negative, but as an opportunity for people to connect — and for everyone to grow.”

Hall introduces students to others who cope with these diseases. She wants more people to take part in this group.

Hall said, “Everyone is special, and nothing should change that.”





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