The best birthday gift of all

This week is my birthday. Turning 33 isn’t all that exciting, but my baby brother’s herculean efforts to run the Chicago Marathon this October for Crohn’s disease are. A few months back, Greg approached me and expressed his interest to make a difference and educate the public about Crohn’s disease.

On Greg’s fundraising page he writes, Through the years, I’ve aspired to complete in the Chicago Marathon; I just didn’t have the guts to participate until my sister had to have 18 inches of hers removed. Natalie’s strength, courage and determination to take on each day and not let her disease hold her down inspires me to lace up my running shoes and gear up for the 2016 Chicago Marathon. I am running to raise money and awareness for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (CCFA). I am running so my sister can stand on the sideline for once and be the one who gets to offer strength to me.”

Week after week, Greg sends me photos and texts about his training. With each mile that is added on and each enthusiastic photo that is shared, I’m overwhelmed with a sense of pride. Pride because I know firsthand how difficult it is to train for a race. Pride because my little brother is going to extreme efforts to make a point and to educate those around him about Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. Pride because when I watch him run October 9, I will know he’s endured blood, sweat and tears for the 1.6 million IBD patients in the United States.

“When the going gets tough, I think of all the people who live in a state of unknown and experience pain from Crohn’s, says Greg. “Marathon training isn’t just putting in miles, it also involves a lot of mental and emotional strength. We all run for our own reasons and often time, these reasons are close to our hearts.”

Only .5 percent of the U.S. population has ever participated in a marathon. A marathon is much more than 26.2 miles on race day; it’s the hundreds of miles that are logged beforehand. It takes more than being physically in shape, it takes a great deal of time, energy and determination.

Greg tells me, “I hope this makes you feel proud. I hope to educate the uneducated who don’t know that Crohn’s disease is a chronic illness, with no cure that causes tremendous pain. Although I cannot take the pain away, I hope that the extra awareness gives you a sense of hope that a cure will be found; that you do not feel alone in this battle.”

Sitting here now envisioning Greg crossing the finish line in Grant Park brings tears to my eyes. I am so excited for that moment and so appreciative that he’s going to this effort to make a difference.

Greg—as you train these last seven weeks know that I admire your compassionate heart and genuine willingness to make a difference. Watching you run and knowing all the effort you’ve put in is something I will remember for the rest of my life. This speaks volumes about your amazing character and how you always put family first. You are a true warrior for the IBD cause, and I can speak for the IBD community and say we are all eternally grateful for advocates like you.

So…what more could a birthday girl ask for?

How about this—my one birthday wish is that you click here and visit Greg’s fundraising page and donate to support the cause. The deadline to donate is Sunday, September 18. Every dollar makes a difference. Let’s join my brother in taking steps to find a cure for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.


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