SOCKIT2IBD: How you can help this family knock out IBD

Since the day Brian Strasser met his wife, Mona, she’s been battling Crohn’s disease. They met in college more than 30 years ago. During that time, Mona underwent an appendectomy, through that procedure, natalie - family picit was discovered she had Crohn’s disease and a portion of her intestine was removed. IBD has been a big part of their lives, their relationship and their family—but, it hasn’t stopped them from enjoying life, finding humor amidst the difficult days and having children.

Speaking of family, their son Aidan (now 21), was diagnosed with Crohn’s at age 13. Much like his mom, he tends to put on a brave face during flares and takes his symptoms and his disease one day at a time.

“Having empathy is a must. My wife and Aidan are true warriors and that is what really inspires and motivates me to want to help spread awareness,” said Brian.

Brian and his family go above and beyond to help get the word out about IBD. In prior years, they launched “Crunches for Crohn’s and Colitis”—crunches for crohn's pose - suburbana campaign both in real life and on social media to connect to those with IBD, create awareness and raise money for the cause. Crohn’s and Colitis Canada backed this effort and supported the effort on a national level. Here’s how it worked—Brian shared a challenge that he would do 10,000 crunches until $10,000 was donated to Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. For five months straight, Brian posted a video of himself doing crunches, while wearing costumes.

“There were several days where I was not 100 percent inspired to post or had time to post, but I made a commitment and even if the video went up at 11:59 pm that day, I did it. In the end, we raised almost $15,000 for the cause and was put directly towards research. I know it’s only a drop in the bucket compared to what is raised annually, but it was my part to make a difference to some degree,” said Brian.

Now—Brian and his family have launched a new video campaign called “SOCKIT2IBD”. The goal is similar—to raise awareness about IBD through videos on social media. You can think of it like the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, but with a twist.

You may be wondering how you can SOCKIT2IBD? It’s simple:

  • Grab a pair of socks
  • Put them on your hands
  • Get in a boxing stance and on video say “Jab, Jab, Hook, Uppercut…Sock It to IBD!”
  • Share a short explanation of why you’re passionate about the cause and implore friends and family to donate to the cause.
  • Donations can be made by clicking this link.
  • Include the hashtag: #SOCKIT2IBD in your social media post and tell others to do the same.
  • When you post to social media, tag Brian Strasser on Facebook, @strassarama on Instagram and @10kCrunches for Twitter.natalie - sockit pose - brian

As Brian says, even though we live in different countries, we’re both fighting the same end goal—a cure for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

Click here to check out the SOCKIT2IBD YouTube channel.



Bigger Than Basketball: Taking IBD support to new heights

Loyola University of Chicago Men’s basketball team had a fairytale season last year. There were countless headlines about the Ramblers being THE Cinderella team during March Madness. natalie hayden 5At the time, Nick DiNardi was a senior walk on and served as a scout to prepare players for each game. Aside from his skills on the hardwood, Nick has battled Crohn’s colitis since he was 11.

The diagnosis came at a time when he was enjoying sports and just being a kid. While playing football, he lost around 25 pounds rather abruptly. Along with weight loss, Nick started feeling extremely fatigued, had intense stomach pains, bloody stool and vomiting. About a year after these symptoms persisted and following several tests and scans, Nick received his IBD diagnosis.

“When I was told I had Crohn’s disease, I was not really sure what to think. I had never heard of it and as an 11-year-old, I really turned to my parents to tell me how to handle it. I tried to continue living my active lifestyle, although many times it was very hard. I felt lonely especially because I felt like I was the only person in the world who had this disease. nick and mom, nick sickMy grade school friends had no idea why I was crying in class, oftentimes teasing me while I was in pain,” said Nick. “My parents and siblings were always there to do everything they could to make me feel better, but I just never felt like anyone related to the pain I was in.”

In the 11 years since Nick received his IBD diagnosis, it took him nine years to encounter another person with the disease. He felt isolated and alone in his journey. These feelings inspired him to create a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit called Bigger Than Basketball (BTB) in August 2018.

“The mission of BTB is to raise awareness and funding for research to benefit individuals suffering from Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. BTB encourages, educates, and mentors individuals affected by these diseases to achieve their goals while managing their illness,” said Nick.natalie hayden 2

One of Nick’s main missions is to make those who are diagnosed with IBD have a solid support system. He hopes BTB will serve as a resource of comfort, a safe space for those in the IBD community to share their stories in order to help others directly or indirectly affected by these diseases. His goal is to create a network of support that allows those of us with IBD to take off our mask and be real about your struggles.

“IBD is a beast of a disease. You can have great days where you feel active and energetic, but you can also have days where you don’t feel like talking or even getting out of bed. With the creation of our network, we want to allow people to express what type of day they are having, so others may be able to relate with their current situation,” explained Nick.

“Bigger Than Basketball is truly an exciting new organization, as one of its key goals is to raise awareness in young persons diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis and show they are not alone,  there are others just like them who understand and are experiencing what they are feeling, and that they can still achieve their dreams with the proper understanding and education about their condition,” said Dr. Russell Cohen, MD, FACG, AGAF.

As a member of the Board of Directors and Director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at the University of Chicago Medicine, Dr. Cohen believes BTB is truly a unique way to reach young people who need help, while expanding awareness and funding with the aim to conquer these conditions in our lifetime.

It’s Nick’s hope that BTB’s network will serve as a buddy system and provide a safety net for people to fall back on. Along with joining the BTB network, you can volunteer and attend upcoming events or donate to the cause. Nick is also looking for people to join the associate board, preferably those living with IBD. To learn more, email: natalie hayden 4

Nick’s IBD has also inspired him to work in the field of medicine, specifically research. He currently works at the University of Chicago with a focus on IBD and Celiac research.

Be sure to show some love to Bigger Than Basketball on social media:

Twitter: BTB_Foundation

Instagram: btb_foundation

Facebook: Bigger Than BasketballFoundation