Recipients

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    Adrian Bulfon - Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University
    Adrian-Bulfon.jpgAdrian Bulfon has always had a passion for science. When he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 16, he was initially distraught. Instead of letting it overwhelm him, Adrian decided to focus on his scientific ambitions with the goal of becoming a gastroenterologist and IBD researcher. He hopes to make a difference in the lives of people living with Crohn’s and colitis. Adrian is now attending the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and is one step closer to achieving his goal.  When he is not in class, Adrian stays busy playing sports and gives back to the IBD community by participating in various activities and support groups. Adrian also advocates for people living with Crohn’s and colitis and was invited to the National Consultation on Accessibility Legislation in Ottawa.
     
     
    Alexandra Cohen - McGill University
    2017-Reciepients-Alexandra-200x200.jpgAt only eight years old, Alexandra Cohen's life direction changed when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Alexandra was inspired to become a pediatric doctor, with the goal of improving the quality of life for children with chronic illnesses, particularly after observing the suffering of others around her and being a patient herself. She spent the past year studying in McGill's pre-med program, during which time she served as VP Academics of her cohort and also contributed to the organization of a charity fashion show, raising $7,000 for Anorexia and Bulimia Quebec. She has now been accepted into medical school at age 19. As an active member of the Crohn's and Colitis Canada community, Alexandra volunteers at the Montreal Gala annually and has helped with fundraising and educational events. Last year, she was awarded the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award after having dedicated over 400 hours to helping various populations, including patients with advanced dementia and children with disabilities.
     
     
    Shira Gertsman - University of Ottawa
    2017-Reciepients-Shira-200x200-3.jpgAfter Shira was diagnosed with IBD she realized that having this disease didn’t mean she had lost her strength; she just had to learn how to apply it differently. By coming to this realization, Shira was able to excel and find fulfilment in her life and strived to make a difference in other people’s lives. This empathy drew Shira to volunteer at various locations including local shelters where she is a volunteer tutor, helps prepare food, and teaches music to young and disabled children. As a biomedical science student, Shira also seeks to help people by designing diagnostic equipment. Although Shira acknowledges that she cannot do everything she wants, she knows she can sincerely care about everything she does.  
     
     
    Hjordis Hentschel - University of Lethbridge
    2017-Reciepients-Hjordis-200x200-1.jpgWhen Hjordis Hentschel thinks of academic success, she thinks beyond just getting good grades. For her, it represents the hard work and dedication she puts into her schoolwork, which gives her the greatest sense of pride. With a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, Hjordis had to work extra hard to achieve her academic success. Outside of the classroom, Hjordis founded the University of Lethbridge’s Gutsy Club helping those living with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. Hjordis hopes that by creating the Gutsy Club, fellow students living with these conditions will seek the support they need. Hjordis also participated in this year’s Gutsy Walk and participates in online support groups in both English and German.  
     
     
    Leslie Hernandez - National Theatre School of Canada
    2017-Reciepients-Lesile-Hernandez-200x200-1.jpgAlthough Leslie Hernandez views her diagnosis of ulcerative colitis as one of her most challenging moments, she also sees it as one of the most rewarding. After enduring painful and embarrassing symptoms for several months, Leslie was finally diagnosed while visiting her mother over the Christmas holiday break. Although it was difficult at first, Leslie realized her only option was to keep moving forward and to be strong. With a chemistry degree and an arts management certificate under her belt, Leslie is now fulfilling her dream of attending the National Theatre School where she hopes to become a stage manager. Leslie attributes this leap to the strength her colitis gave her and she is ready to realize her wildest dreams.
     
     
    Timothy Ireland - University of Winnipeg
    2017-Reciepients-Tim-Ireland-200x200.jpgTimothy Ireland had to learn how to balance being a student with being an athlete. In class, he has to buckle down and work hard on achieving good academic standing. On the basketball court, he has to fight for physical strength and stamina. On top of all this, Timothy has to try and achieve this balance while living with ulcerative colitis. Not wanting to be hindered by his colitis, Timothy also gives back by taking on many volunteer endeavors. Timothy works as a university ambassador, coaches youth basketball internationally in England and Italy, and helped organize a TEDx event at the University of Winnipeg. Timothy also participated in the 2017 Gutsy Walk with his friends to raise awareness of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in Canada.
     
     
    Aleksandra Kacinska - Ryerson University
    2017-Reciepients-Aleksandra-200x200.jpgAleksandra Kacinska believes that storytelling can have profound changes in both the IBD community and at a national level. Aleksandra wants to change the dialogue around talking about Crohn’s and colitis and not have people feel ashamed by their disease. This passion for inspiring others has led Aleksandra to pursue a degree in digital media creation and public relations. She hopes that her own experience living with Crohn’s disease, paired with her education, will allow her to continue to raise awareness for those also living with these diseases. As the Digital Outreach Lead for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Peel chapter, Aleksandra also strives to help others through sharing stories and inspiring posts on social media.
     
     
    Najla Kanaan - Wilfrid Laurier University
    2017-Reciepients-Najla-200x200.jpgNajla Kanaan has a deep passion for helping others. Living with ulcerative colitis, and being the daughter of immigrant parents, she understands that despite best intentions, a lack of knowledge around this disease can create fear and shame. This is the reason why Najla strives to help other immigrant youth living with Crohn’s and colitis not feel alone or weak. Based on her own experiences, she has started a peer support program to help people talk with their families and communities about Crohn’s and colitis. Through this program, Najla has been able to build a strong support network of young people living with IBD. As a Master’s of Social Work student at Wilfred Laurier University, Najla will continue to help others in need.
     
     
    Gillian McKirdy - City University in Canada
    2017-Reciepients-Gillian-Mckirdy-200x200.jpgGillian McKirdy knows how to manage a busy schedule. A student, a mother of three, and a yoga instructor, Gillian balances it all while living with Crohn’s disease. After years of struggling with symptoms, Gillian now lives with a permanent ileostomy which has greatly improved her health. Gillian also dedicates much of her time volunteering for various organizations such as the Calgary Distress Centre and the Chinook Hospice. Gillian is currently completing her Masters of Counselling degree and is looking to become a registered psychologist. Her aim is to work with people dealing with disabilities and chronic illnesses, such as Crohn’s and colitis. Gillian also took part in this year’s Gutsy Walk along with her team, The Down Dogs.
     
     
    Emma Neary - Queen's University
    2017-Reciepients-Emma-200x200.jpgEmma Neary has had many accomplishments for someone who just finished high school. Emma is a recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, completed a semester at Harvard University summer school, is a leader of the Peace and Justice Coalition, and served as the high school coordinator for the Memorial University World Health Organization Society. Emma was able to do all this while living with Crohn’s disease. When Emma was first diagnosed she missed a lot of school but was able to catch up and excel in her classes. Emma is now off to Queen’s University where she will take part in the QuARMS program where she will enter medical school in her third year.
     
     
    Elliot Pitter - Dalhousie University
    2017-Reciepients-Elliot-200x200.jpgAlthough Elliot Pitter was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when he was 13 years old, he wanted to make sure he gave back to the community. He co-starred in an educational video on NG tube feeding created by the IWK Hospital, gave talks to newly diagnosed kids and participated in various studies. His rationale: maybe he could make it easier for the next kid. A former camper of Brigadoon Village’s Guts and Glory Camp, Elliot went on to become a camp counsellor for four summers. As a camp counselor, Elliot has been able to teach and learn from other campers living with Crohn’s and colitis, as well as other chronic illnesses. Elliot is studying mechanical engineering, and because of his own experience with Crohn’s disease, he is interested in pursuing biomedical engineering.
     
    Brandon Schupp - University of Toronto
    2017-Reciepients-Brandon-200x200.jpg
    When Brandon Schupp was just 12 years old he launched the Mountain of Hope Campaign to raise money for childhood cancer research. At 13, he climbed Good Hope Mountain in British Columbia, raising over $140,000. The following year, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis just before he was about to climb Mt. Elbrus in Russia. The period that followed was extremely difficult as Brandon struggled with his health and family life at home. Although it was a challenging time, it did teach Brandon about perseverance, independence, and balance. Brandon is now entering his second year of law school at the University of Toronto and works with youth in residential care at Youthdale Treatment Centres.
     
    Joseph Shaw - Dalhousie University
    2017-Reciepients-Joe-Shaw-200x200.jpgJoseph Shaw is a 28 year old business graduate who has spent the last few years working in marketing and sales. In the fall he will be attending Dalhousie University in Halifax to study nursing. Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 11, Joseph understands the challenges faced by people who experience their own medical struggles. He also helps others by volunteering with the Ostomy Halifax Society. Given his own experience with ostomy surgery, Joseph works with children and families going through the same procedure as a National Certified Ostomy Visitor and also works with Brigadoon Village at their camp for children living with Crohn’s, colitis, and ostomies. Joseph hopes his own positive outlook on living with Crohn’s disease will allow him to excel as a nurse and continue to help others. 
     
    Veronica Slade - University of Regina
    2017-Reciepients-Veronica-200x200.jpg
    Diagnosed in her senior year of high school, Veronica Slade understands the ups and downs that come with living with inflammatory bowel disease. Shortly after beginning her social work degree, Veronica experienced one of her worst flare-ups, which landed her in the hospital. Despite this, Veronica was able to maintain her grades from her hospital room. Even after undergoing ostomy surgery, Veronica was soon back to continuing her studies. Her experience living with IBD and as a new ostomate has inspired her to give back to these communities. She works with her local ostomy society and is helping revamp their hospital program for people going through similar experiences. Veronica also participates in the Gutsy Walk and was able to complete it just 12 weeks after her surgery.
     
    Aaron Slobodin - Quest University Canada
    2017-Reciepients-Aaron-200x200.jpgAaron Slobodin has a passion for math. As a mathematics major at Quest University Canada, Aaron has been able to conduct research in pure and applied mathematics. As someone living with ulcerative colitis and recurring C. difficile, he knows the value of time management and the importance of a strong work ethic. These time management skills have allowed him to excel academically, even during difficult times and flare-ups. Aaron hopes to continue his learning and pursue graduate school in pure mathematics. Having recently been awarded a spot in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program, Aaron is excited to represent his university, Canada, and the IBD community.
     



     
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    Antoine Lapointe - Université du Québec à Montréal
    Antoine.jpgAntoine is no stranger to life’s challenges. From a young age Antoine struggled to keep up in school and quickly feel behind his fellow classmates. Despite this, Antoine decided to not give up, work closely with a tutor, and become the first person in his family to be accepted to university.

    Antoine’s journey through school met another major setback when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 21 resulting in his hospitalization. The combination of stressful classes and a full workload had left Antoine under a lot of pressure which was negatively affecting his health. He decided to concentrate solely on school and allow his body to heal.

    Now that Antoine has regained his health, he has continued to focus on his studies. Studying Urban Planning, Antoine hopes to help others achieve a higher quality of life through creating city spaces that better suit people’s needs. He believe that sustainable development will help engage future generations.
     
    Azalech Boyana - Ryerson University
    Azlaech.jpgAzalech experienced her first life changing journey when she came to Canada as a refugee from Ethiopia. As a newcomer to Canada, Azalech had to adjust to new customs, cultures, and to her new surroundings. After many ups and downs, Azalech was able to become a permanent resident of Canada, secure a job in her field, and was able to volunteer with newcomers who were also struggling to settle in Canada.

    Azalech experienced her second life changing journey when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. After experiencing many symptoms, Azalech was finally able to find the right medications for her and ultimately regain control of her health and better understand her disease.

    Now as a student at Ryerson University in the Early Childhood Studies MA program, Azalech hopes to build on her experience and education so she can continue to mentor, empower, and support children. She also hopes to give back to her community and continue to educate them on Crohn’s and colitis, and help break down those stigmas associated with these diseases.
     
    Caroline Evans - Dalhousie University
    Caroline.jpgCaroline Evans, a third year medical student, uses her experience living with Crohn’s disease to better relate to patients. Diagnosed at 14, 24-year-old Caroline empathizes with different aspects of chronic disease such as what it means to live with daily symptoms, disease complications, insurance and drug coverage issues, and scheduling required appointments and tests. Although it has been a bumpy road since her diagnosis, Caroline believes that she lives a good life with Crohn’s disease.

    While studying to become a doctor, Caroline enjoys staying active and focuses on her physical and mental wellness. She is passionate about running, skiing, and working out at the gym, as well as managing a healthy diet. Caroline volunteers with Big Brothers- Big Sisters, a local elementary school’s Healthy-Living program, and has led a fundraiser for Syrian Refugees’ health needs with her fellow classmates.
     
    Darrah Horobetz - University of Winnipeg
    Darrah.jpgDarrah began her journey with Crohn’s disease when she was just 13 years old. Suffering from the various symptoms for seven months, Darrah was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Although Darrah was frustrated when she was first diagnosed, she has learned to accept the disease and the strength it has instilled in her.

    Since her diagnosis, Darrah has gone on to attend university at the University of Winnipeg. As a full time student, she also finds the time to work 30-40 hours per week and give back to the community by volunteering for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. As a fundraising and volunteer coordinator, Darrah successfully organized the Bud, Spud, and Steak event in Winnipeg which raised over $4000.

    Although the time since Darrah was diagnosed has been hard on her, she has not let it slow her down or hinder her from obtaining her goals. Darrah believes that her disease is only a piece of who she is and does not define her.
     
    Jack Kerr - Queen's University
    Jack.jpgJack understands the ups and downs of living with Crohn’s and colitis. A flare up can leave you emotionally and physically drained while the prospect of a relapse is always in the back of your mind, even when in remission. These were the challenges Jack would come to face after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 17.

    Now studying Life Science at Queen’s University, Jack aspires to be a gastroenterologist so he can help others facing similar challenges and obstacles he has faced. Ultimately, he wants to be an ulcerative colitis success story and inspire others. 

    Through his volunteer work, Jack has already begun his work inspiring others. He has worked with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, Horizon Health Network, and the Don Connolly Golf Academy and is currently involved with Canada East Spine Research Centre and Brigadoon Village. Jack is also the co-chair of the Queen’s Crohn’s and Colitis Committee for the upcoming year and has raised almost $2,000 for the Gutsy Walk. Jack is also involved with the Kingston Chapter while at school and the Saint John Chapter when his is back at home in New Brunswick.

    Although Jack understand the challenges of living with these diseases, he wants to show others that it is possible to have a normal and fulfilling life.
     
     
    Lacy Brandt - Pacific Rim College
    Lacy.jpgLacy Brandt has to juggle lots of things: from being a full-time Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine student, to working part-time, to volunteering and maintaining extracurricular activities, she has a lot on her plate!

    After being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and having major surgery, Lacy’s life dramatically changed but she was determined to take her health into her own hands. She began volunteering with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and would educate her classmates on these diseases. Lacy has been involved with the Calgary and Victoria chapters, participated in the Gutsy Walk and in a video presented at the Calgary Gala where she was able to speak about her experience living with Crohn’s disease.  Through volunteering, she also received valuable peer support which provided her the confidence to continue to reach out and help others.

    Although stress can still affect her health, Lacy manages this by taking care of herself. This includes hiking, dancing, practicing yoga, and spending time at the beach.
     
     
    Luke Knock - Nova Scotia Community College
    Luke.jpg “Hey, it could always be worse.” This is the attitude Luke has when addressing his Crohn’s disease. Diagnosed in the sixth grade, Luke and his family would go on to experience other health challenges.  From his brother being diagnosed with Crohn’s shortly before him, his mother’s own battle with cancer, to his uncle losing his battle with cancer, Luke has had to endure a lot.

    Through the years of struggle, Luke was determined to stay focused on his school work as to not fall behind. He was also able to maintain the activities he loved doing, like soccer, basketball, and playing drums. He was even able to take on new challenges like playing hockey and baseball.

    Luke has also been able to give back to his community. He and his family take part in the annual Gutsy Walk and has encouraged other members in his community to contribute. Every summer Luke also serves as a camp counsellor through his church where he is able to encourage the campers to pursue their own passions despite their hardships.
     
     
    Michaelis Hurst - University of Victoria at Aurora College
    Michaelis.jpgWhen Michaelis was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 19 she thought her life was over and she would never find happiness again. Although the last six years have been hard on Michaelis, her experience with Crohn’s has made her a stronger person and she feels happier than ever.

    Michaelis attributes her involvement in the Crohn’s and colitis community as having given her much strength to continue on her journey. While living in Winnipeg, MB, Michaelis got involved with her local chapter by attending meetings, and volunteering at the M&M BBQ and yearly gala. Michaelis was able to find the support she needed and even became her local support group president when she returned to her hometown.

    Now living in Yellowknife, NT, Michaelis also works with local gastroenterologists, nurses, dieticians, doctors, and other members of her community to increase the support in her area. As a nursing student, Michaelis also hopes to continue inspiring others and help them achieve wellness.
     
     
    Rachel Meehan - University of Guelph
    Rachel.jpgDespite being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease over ten years ago, Rachel made a promise to herself that her disease would not hold her back. Since then Rachel has gone on to complete her undergraduate degree, a graduate certificate, travelled to three continents, advanced in her career, moved twice, and is now finishing up her master’s degree.

    Rachel has also found the time to give back to her community. As a member of the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Sudbury Chapter, Rachel has been able to be involved in various events. They include hosting the “Let’s Do Brunch” program in Toronto, serving as the Media Captain for Sudbury’s Gutsy Walk (as well as being a Top Pledge Earner!), and speaking at the launch of PACE at Mount Sinai in Toronto, ON.

    Through Rachel’s hard work and advocacy, she continues to inspire others. Ultimately, Rachel hopes to show others that it is possible to achieve your dreams despite living with chronic illness.
     
    Shantz Bennett - Memorial University of Newfoundland
    Shantz.jpgWhen Shantz was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 14 he had many concerns. Was this contagious? Could I pass this to my friends and family? Would I still be able to play high school hockey? Would I be able to keep up at school? For Shantz, it was a fight or flight situation. 

    For Shantz, he chose fight! Through the help of his family, friends, teachers and physicians, Shantz was able to focus on his health and still be able to do the things he once loved. Shantz went on to become a life guard, preform with his school’s drama group, joined the navy cadets, and was even able to attend World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain.

    By choosing to fight, Shantz has been able to accomplish so much and give back to his community. Shantz believes that his experience with Crohn’s has given him new purpose and a positive outlook.
     
     



     
  • Bernadette Woodman - St. Fancis Xavier University
    Bernadette_cropped.jpg After lengthy hospital stays, countless tests, and procedures, Bernadette was finally diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of eleven. Most kids her age would want nothing more than to never step foot in a hospital again, but not Bernadette. She loved the environment of the IWK Hospital in Halifax, NS; the buzz of the health team, the excitement of the activity around her, and the fact that the people there were saving lives. This experience would ultimately influence her passion for helping others.

    As Bernadette embarks on her next journey to St. Francis Xavier University where she plans to study nursing, she still clings onto the feelings of courage that her health team had given her when she was a young girl. It has become her new goal to instill courage in others who find themselves in similar situations.

    Bernadette’s experience when she was younger has also inspired her to give back to her community. She was able to share her story during the IWK Telethon, a televised fundraiser for the children’s hospital in Halifax, NS and would later go on to volunteer at the IWK in the summers. Bernadette also participated in the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Gutsy Walk as a Top Pledge Earner and has raised over $4600.      
    Gabriel Tobias - University of British Columbia
    Gabriel.jpgAs a BC Forest Firefighter and National Fitness Trainer, a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease came as a shock to Gabriel.  As a firefighter, he was accustomed to spending up to 21 days at a time in remote places without access to medical facilities. With his new diagnosis, Gabriel knew that he had to make a change in his career. After returning to school to gain extra prerequisite credits that he added to his undergraduate degree in Human Kinetics, Gabriel decided to embark on a new life journey; medical school.

    Gabriel’s journey so far has not been without complications. After tearing his ACL playing university rugby, he faced multiple surgeries to correct the issue. It was during this period of recovery that he first had the idea of helping others with physical limitations. He started the program accessABILITY where he provides free personal training and gym memberships for students with disabilities at his school, UBC Okanagan.

    Now on his journey to become a doctor, Gabriel hopes to continue to inspire others around him. He continues to maintain a healthy lifestyle and help others through accessABILITY and beyond.
    Jordan Faier - McGill University
    Jordan.jpgFor Jordan, his next big adventure is just around the corner.

    In just a few short months, Jordan will be packing his bags and heading to Melbourne, Australia to participate in an international exchange program. Although he has experienced many complications in the past 15 years following a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease at the age of 6, he is looking ahead to a bright future.
    From an early age Jordan has dedicated his time and effort to give back to his community. Having raised over $1500 for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, he hopes to continue to spread awareness of these diseases both at home in Montreal and in Australia.

    Being diagnosed at such a young age, Jordan was inspired to pursue a degree in health science at McGill University. Following this, he wants to continue his education and study optometry at l’Universite de Montréal. Through his education, Jordan hopes to continue to help others.

    Now that he is about to head off to Australia, Jordan is inspired to educate a wider audience on the seriousness of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and that nothing can stop you from following your dreams!
     
    Joseph D’Addario - York University
    Joseph.jpgInspiration can come in many different shapes and sizes. This is something that Joseph learned after his visit to L’Arche, an international organization that aims to help people with intellectual disabilities.

    Inspiration can also be tested during times of great challenge. Joseph would also come to realize this when he was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease during his undergraduate degree and with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) earlier this year. 

    Although Joseph has had to face two serious health challenges, he has continued to push forward. As a teacher and current student in the Masters of Arts program in Disability History, Joseph hopes to incorporate his first hand experience with Crohn’s and AML into the curriculum and to help promote washroom access and preventing negative stigma.

    Joseph has had the opportunity to inspire others through a trip to Kenya to build a school and teach the children in an underprivileged area. He has also helped to spread awareness on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis through fundraising for the Gutsy Walk with his team Game of Crohn’s, earning the coveted Top Pledge Earner status, and participated in the ‘Let’s Do Brunch’ campaign in Toronto.
     
    Keara Maguire - Thompson Rivers University
    Keara.jpgAt the age of 17, Keara had one goal in mind; the Olympics.

    As a competitive speed skater training with the National Speed Skating Team, Keara was taught to push herself to achieve her dreams. At the age of 20 her Olympic dreams began to dissolve when she was diagnosed with colitis. Although she continued to work through the symptoms and was named to the 2014 Olympic Talent Squad, Keara had to put all that on hold to focus on her health.

    Turning her attention to her academic career in healthcare, Keara hopes to inspire others who are facing similar challenges. As a respiratory therapy student, she is working her way towards a career as a Cardiovascular Perfusionist.
    Although colitis has provided many sets backs for Keara, she is determined to persevere and is helped by managing her nutrition, mental health, and staying physically active.

    Keara has served as a team leader at the M&M charity BBQ days, participated in the annual Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Gutsy Walk, and co-founded the fundraiser Canoeing for Crohn’s and Colitis. Altogether, she has helped raise over $8,000 to support Crohn’s and colitis research. Keara has also been engaged with the Crohn’s and colitis community through speaking engagements and is always looking for new ways to reach out to the community.
     
    Pénélope Houle - Université du Québec à Montréal
    Penelope.jpgAfter missing a year of school due to her Crohn’s disease, Pénélope told herself that she would never sacrifice her education in the face of illness again.
    Pénélope has been determined to finish her degree by completing courses from home. Although Crohn’s disease has slowed the process down, she is more focused than ever to finish her degree. Upon completion of her degree, Pénélope plans to teach French and English abroad.

    Pénélope gained a head start on her dream when she planned a trip to teach children in Asia. It is her hope that by teaching children it will broaden their horizons. Pénélope put in a lot of time and hard work planning activities for the children and helped raise money for the school before she set off. Although her trip was cut short due to illness, she continued to help from back home in Canada. For example, Pénélope organized Skype calls with the children to help them practice their French.

    Pénélope’s desire to help others is also demonstrated locally. She has helped raise money for the annual Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Gutsy Walk and she is always willing to share her story to others. Pénélope’s hope is that by talking more openly about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the stigma will be removed.
    Rebecca Marsh - University of Alberta
    Rebecca.jpgMom, it’s just a disease, and I will handle it
    These are the words that Rebecca spoke when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Although difficult at times, these words would later be used to remind Rebecca of her strength and perseverance during trying times.

    As a competitive figure skater, a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease at only 15 years old came as a hindrance to her athletic career. Despite this, Rebecca continued to push herself while living with a chronic disease. Now as a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of Alberta, she will continue her studies and begin the Adapted Physical Activity Master’s Program this fall.

    Rebecca’s athleticism and passion for physical activity is demonstrated not only in her studies, but also in her community involvement. She teaches group exercise classes, volunteers for Special Olympics and The Steadward Centre, as well as performs respite work for children living with Down Syndrome. Through her volunteer work and future studies, Rebecca hopes to inspire, empower and support others to become more physically active and to help break down barriers people experiencing disability face.
    Richelle Wagner - University of Alberta
    Richelle.jpg
    Richelle knows the meaning of hard work. As a member of the University of Alberta Augustana women’s basketball team, she has had to continually push herself, especially when experiencing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

    Diagnosed when she was younger, Richelle has managed her symptoms through fitness, healthy eating habits and increased sleep. This can be a challenge as she has had to balance a busy class load while dedicating over 25 hours a week to basketball.

    Richelle’s passion is also demonstrated off the court as she volunteers at the Women’s Shelter where she helps to organize games for the children there. She also volunteers at her school’s local youth basketball camp where she has the opportunity to teach and mentor kids. Richelle is also active in the Crohn’s and colitis community where she has taken part in the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Gutsy Walk and M&M Charity BBQ Day.
     
    Ryan Nesbitt - Ryerson University
    Ryan.jpgDiagnosed at the age 4, Ryan can hardly remember a time when he didn’t have Crohn’s disease. Despite having Crohn’s for almost all of his life, he has persevered in order to reach his goals.

    For many years now, Ryan has been had been involved in the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada community. He participated in the annual Gutsy Walk and served as honorary chair at the Peel Region’s walk in his final year of high school. He also served as Gutsy Walk ambassador the following year. These events allowed for Ryan to be more comfortable talking about his illness and he was able to encourage others to share their stories.

    This passion for sharing his story has now followed Ryan to university. As a Film Studies major at Ryerson University, he is able to explore Crohn’s disease through film. Ryan created a short documentary chronicling Crohn’s disease in young people. He hopes this film will inspire others to learn more about this disease and to serve as a resource for those who are newly diagnosed.
    Sarah Bouchard - Queen's University
    Sarah.jpgWhen Sarah was finishing her last year of high school her health took a major turn. After months of pain and fatigue, Sarah was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease just months before graduating.

    Although Sarah managed to get her health back on track, she did experience some bumps along the way.  After obtaining her Bachelor of Education degree and a Graduate Diploma, she secured a job as a teacher.  After four years of teaching, Sarah quickly realized the challenges of an unpredictable disease and not being able to access the washroom when needed.

    This challenge has led Sarah to a new career goal of working with students in a different capacity than classroom teaching.  She is now entering the Professional Masters of Education program at Queen’s University and hopes that this new career change will allow her to spend more time volunteering. 

    As an active volunteer with the Sudbury Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Chapter, Sarah has been able to help other members through social media, has participated in numerous Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Gutsy Walks, and has helped organize a local education event.
     
  • Ben Nowrouzi - McMaster University                             
    Ben.jpg Ben was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 14, however his condition became more pronounced throughout his university years. This lead to substantial absences and ultimately required him to take time off for surgery. Ben viewed this challenge as a mixed blessing as this pivotal event led him to transform his health, his relationships with the community and his career goals.
     
    Eager to share his experiences, Ben created a student led group at the University of Toronto to increase communication, develop a rapport and provide mutual assistance to students living with Crohn’s or colitis. The group has helped members improve their self-image as they promote awareness on campus and online.
    Ellen Kuenzig - University of Calgary
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    At an educational symposium for people living with Crohn’s disease, Ellen Kuenzig heard a persuasive speech from a doctor who studies the lives of young people living with IBD. That speech changed her perspective about what she could achieve despite her illness, and inspired her to follow her dream of going to medical school.
     
    At the symposium, she was able to interact with others who were facing the same challenges. Having lived with Crohn’s since she was 16 years old, it was a relief to no longer feel stigmatized and finally be able to emerge from her shell.
     
    Ellen is also an active member of the Crohn’s community through which she helps others who are dealing with the same disease. To Ellen, her research and volunteer work are ways that she can give back to others living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
    Emily Heffernan - Queen's University
    Emily.jpgThe summer before university is supposed to be an exciting time for first year students, but it came with an unexpected challenge for Emily Heffernan. Two weeks before moving away to study at Queen’s University, Emily was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. During her first semester at Queen’s, Emily struggled with nausea, stomach pain, and side effects from her medication. She never imagined the way in which her condition would positively impact her future.

    Taking a proactive approach to managing her disease and symptoms, Emily joined the Queen’s Crohn’s and Colitis Committee and assisted with the Queen’s Engineering Mental Health Initiative. Emily assisted in planning fundraising events, helped other students living with Crohn’s or colitis, and generated ideas to improve the mental health of engineering students. Emily found strength in helping others who were going through experiences similar to her own.
     
    Freda Sakebow, University of Regina
    Freda.pngAfter a difficult childhood, a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease might seem like an unfair additional burden. Although it did feel that way initially, Freda now believes that her Crohn’s diagnosis was a “humble blessing in disguise”. Since learning of the disease in February 2007, Freda has overcome tremendous physical, emotional and mental pain to obtain her vision of balanced healthy, happy home and a productive career.
     
    Freda has changed her lifestyle and outlook on life in pursuit of better health and coping with her disease. Through this experience, Freda is able to help others – offering guidance on proper weight training and healthy eating.
    Michael Guglielmi-Wheeler - Brock University
    Michael.jpgAs young boy, Michael’s mom taught him the importance of gratitude, empathy and sharing with those less fortunate. It was those values that helped him overcome the challenges associated with being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 14.
     
    Michael learned that a healthy lifestyle goes a long way toward helping control his disease. But it is his commitment to volunteering for a wide range of causes that helps him maintain his positive outlook on life despite managing a chronic illness.
     
    Michael donates his time to a variety of organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Canadian Food for Children, alongside his active participation in the Peel Chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. His Gutsy Walk team – “Game of Crohn’s” – has raised over $25,000. Wherever possible, he combines his passion for helping others with travel, such as teaching English in impoverished areas of Costa Rica or taking YMCA campers on a portage in Muskoka.
    Michelle Louis - University of Manitoba
    Michelle.pngAs she wrapped her arms around her expanding belly, Michelle Louis knew something else was going on inside her body. After countless trips to the hospital and in spite of assurance from the doctors, she firmly believed it was more than just pregnancy pain. When she was five months along in her pregnancy, Michelle was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – a hard reality that inspired her to learn a lot about herself and tap into her inner strength.
     
    Michelle is the perfect example of the benefits of a positive attitude, hard work and willingness to help others. Although she first viewed Crohn’s disease as a curse, she persevered and focused on her health, using acupuncture for pain management and staying in close contact with her gastroenterologist, general practitioner, dietician and the nurses at her treatment clinic.
    Rachel LePage - Thompson Rivers University
    Rachel.jpgRachel LePage was no stranger to Crohn’s disease growing up, having witnessed her father battle the chronic disease for most of her young life. There are hereditary links to the disease, so she knew it was possible that she might also develop Crohn’s or colitis in the future. It was these experiences and her desire to help others that strongly influenced her decision to pursue a career in healthcare.

    During her third year of nursing school at Thompson Rivers University, Rachel went from being the nurse to being the patient when she was misdiagnosed with pancreatitis. This started the road to her eventual diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, which came only after much persistence with her physicians. Despite her new diagnosis, multiple medical treatments, an array of new medications, and a busy schedule raising her three-year-old daughter, Rachel finished her third year of nursing school with straight A’s!
     
    Sarah Carrigan - St. Francis Xavier University
    Sarah.jpgSarah Carrigan firmly believes that the physical health of the body is directly linked to the health of the mind and spirit.
     
    When Sarah learned that she had Crohn's disease at the age of 11, she decided to make the best of her new diagnosis. She needed a feeding tube, which meant that she was not able to hide her disease from others. Rather than isolate herself, Sarah took the opportunity to teach her classmates about Crohn's and help them better understand the disease. With a great support system of family, friends and teachers, Sarah continued living her life to the fullest. In her free time, she played basketball, taught Sunday school, took guitar lessons and went to summer camp, feeding tube in tow!
     
    Sarah is an active volunteer, lending her vocal and guitar talents to various charities and helping raise funds for Crohn's and Colitis Canada.
     
    Ariane Leroux-Boudreault -  Université du Québec à Montréal
    Ariane.jpgAriane has always been passionate about helping sick children, either through research or therapy. In 2011, despite having been diagnosed six years prior with ulcerative colitis, she is currently pursuing a doctorate in psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal. If obtaining a PhD can be difficult for someone who is in perfect health, for a person in poor health, it becomes a real challenge!
     
    Rather than fight the disease, Ariane encourages people with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis to try to accept their condition and learn to live with it. For her, the only limits of the disease are those we impose upon ourselves. Over time, Ariane has learned to listen to her body, both physically and psychologically. The support of loved ones is crucial. Despite everything, with this approach Ariane was able to realize her lifelong dream.
    Élyse Potvin - Université de Montréal

    Elyse.jpgÉlyse Potvin was only 6 years old when she experienced the first symptoms of Crohn's disease. With highs and lows and fluctuating health, the disease eventually progressed, requiring physicians to operate while she was still in her teens.

    Her personal encounter with Crohn’s disease has propelled Élyse to pursue a career in health. As she completes a medical degree at the University of Montreal’s campus in the Mauricie region, Elyse is committed to making the most of her medical training. An environmental activist at heart, she joined the Medical Student Group MEDVERT. A diligent and proactive student, Elyse also became a member of SCORP, a group that is dedicated to human rights and peace in the Mauricie region. Her diagnosis has not only pushed Élyse to want to take care of the health of others, but it has also triggered healthier lifestyle habits in her everyday life.
  • Sarah Allen - University of New Brunswick
    SarahAllen.jpgDoubled over in pain with fever-induced hallucinations, it took months for 14 year old Sarah to be diagnosed with Crohn’s. Spending more time in the hospital than in school as a teen, Sarah developed a great admiration for the nurses who helped to ease her pain and lessen the embarrassment she felt. After years of wishing to be just like them, Sarah leaped back into university at the age of 30 to obtain a nursing degree.

    Sitting next to the door in every class and relying on only protein shakes for nutrition during clinic hours, Sarah has kept her disease in check while remaining on the Dean’s list. She has, among many other accomplishments, been a peer mentor, the Nursing Society treasurer, and selected to represent her school at two nursing conferences. Perhaps most impressive, Sarah has done all of this while raising a daughter all on her own.     
    Callie Carkner - Brock University
    CallieCarkner.jpgTurning a Crohn's diagnosis into a life direction has helped Callie to create opportunity out of what most would have considered a big setback. Callie received her diagnosis after three years of painful symptoms and quickly found a new outlook on life and a new passion to help others living with IBD. Within 24 hours, Callie acted as a SickKids Hospital spokesperson at a major donor event for the Dreams Delivery Program, promoting the hospital and helping to raise awareness of IBD. Callie's goal of bringing awareness to the disease that has shaped her future continues to gain momentum as she studies Sports Management at Brock University. Here, she helped launch InvisAbilities, an organization that supports students living with hidden chronic diseases. Whether as a SickKids Ambassador or as a spokesperson for the IBD community, Callie continues to be a source of inspiration to all of those around her.
    Ashley Poffenroth - Queen's University
    AshleyPoffenroth.jpgNow a fourth year student at Queen’s University, Ashley was only 15 when she contracted a bacterial infection. The following year was spent in an out of the hospital, a challenging time for any teenager, but Ashley took it in stride and used the time to embrace her inner socialite. Attending “exclusive patient events” kept Ashley busy as she received diagnoses for appendicitis, pancreatitis, a septic abscess, and ultimately Crohn’s disease. Ashley’s extracurricular life continued to flourish in university, where she participated in intramurals sports, performed and choreographed with the dance club and acted as Director of Queen’s Project RED, a Heart and Stroke Foundation charity. A deep rooted passion to help others can be felt in all of Ashley’s endeavours, but most notably in her decision to pursue a career as a field nurse.
    Gil Yerushalmi - York University
    GilYerushalmi.jpgIt was at the young age of seven that Gil received his Crohn's diagnosis and it came at an especially difficult time for the family – Gil’s older brother had suddenly passed away the previous year. Doctors attributed the stressful situation as having contributed to the disease’s onset. The road following Gil’s diagnosis was not an easy one, including a family move to Canada and a new language to learn. Young Gil, however, persevered and completed his secondary education as an honour roll student. Now studying Biomedical Science at York University, Gil is well on his way to becoming a physician – a position which he hopes will allow him to help patients with similar health issues. His summers are spent in the labs of the University of Toronto conducting cardiac physiology research and his free time is dedicated to helping those around him.
    Kevin Ram - University of Victoria
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    For Vancouver native Kevin, the serious problems caused by IBD have not slowed him down, but rather opened new doors. Attending the Easter Seals Camp Horizon, a place for children living with disabilities and chronic illnesses, led Kevin to find a place where he could make a difference. Through volunteering and working at the camp, Kevin built friendships to last a lifetime and helped to bring his positive outlook to other young kids living with illness.

    During this time, Kevin came to discover his true passion: to help these children, to coach them, and to guide their way into a bright future, just as had been done for him when he first came to the camp. Kevin became an advocate and spokesperson for children living with IBD, speaking at local events and helping families to navigate the rocky waters that come with a diagnosis. Working with both IDEAS and the BC Children’s Hospital, Kevin routinely visits new and old patients to offer his support and his personal advice.

    Marie-Michelle Blouin - Université de Montréal
    MarieBlouin.jpgDiagnosed with Crohn’s at the age of 16, Marie-Michelle inadvertently found a new career choice in her disease. The many days spent in the hospital led her to seek out a profession in health. Committing all of her time to schoolwork, Marie-Michelle obtained her second Diploma of College Studies in only 8 months instead of the usual 2 years. IBD couldn’t get in the way of Marie-Michelle’s success who took any measures necessary, including recording her lessons and listening to them at home, in order to finish with a perfect score. After many introspective thoughts, Marie-Michelle came to the conclusion that doing well in her studies while being in good health were the only things that mattered to her. She decided to leave her job so that she could invest more time in physical activity. The results of this decision were outstanding – Marie-Michelle was able to completely eliminate her joint pain and diminish her daily fatigue. 
    Jenna Rines - University of Toronto
    In the three years since her ulcerative colitis diagnosis, Jenna has become an outspoken member of the community, making constant efforts to encourage others to join the conversation. Her super alter ego, @ColitiGirl on Twitter, is one of the many ways she strives to communicate with others living with IBD. From helping to organize early “Gutsy Walks” at Queens University, to holding executive positions at both Telephone Aid Line Kingston and InvisAbilities, Jenna has never let her inflammatory bowel disease get in the way of her goals. Accompanying Jenna on her journey to become a social worker is Sally the Stoma – the ileostomy she was given after having her large intestine removed. Jenna and Sally are now stable, and balance an active fitness routine with a gluten-free diet and enjoy relaxing hobbies to avoid the burnout that can so easily come to students affected by IBD. This focus on balance has allowed Jenna to contribute to two published academic papers, act as research assistant in the Queen’s developmental psychology lab and complete her undergraduate studies in Psychology with honours
  • Shelby Beals - Memorial University of Newfoundland                                    
    shelby-beals.jpgShelby is a hard working first year University student who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 11. Since her diagnosis, Shelby has done everything possible to defy the limitations that people think she has. From captain of sports teams and student council, to working her way up to the top position and rank in the Canadian Cadet Movement, Shelby is still able to find the time to help the IWK Health Centre as much as possible. Helping others who face IBD complications is what gives Shelby the greatest feelings of joy and she does this through various fundraising initiatives, volunteer opportunities, IBD Camp and hospital research programs. Her goal is to complete her Bachelor of Science in Biology and become a Nurse Practitioner so that she can continue to help others, the way that her own health care professionals have helped her.
    Carly Lindsay - Queen's University
    carly-lindsay.jpgCarly, who is currently enrolled in her second year of University, has been living with “Trouble” for the past ten years. “Trouble” is her ileostomy that she and her nurse nicknamed. After nearly seven weeks in hospital, a variety of medications and one too many blood transfusions, Carly and her family had to make the difficult decision to undergo surgery, removing her entire large intestine at the very young age of nine.
    Since her diagnosis Carly has met numerous people that live with feelings of isolation and uncertainty. Recognizing these emotions, Carly made it her personal goal to help mentor others, especially children, living with IBD. After completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Queen’s University, she hopes to continue to positively impact those suffering with IBD and continue further studies in gastroenterology and entersomal-wound therapy. It doesn’t matter what rock you throw her way, Carly maintains a positive attitude and lives life to the fullest. From recording more than 1,500 hours in community service (only 40 hours are required to graduate high school) and supporting CCFC in various initiatives, to climbing Mount Everest with the Intestinal Disease Education & Awareness (IDEAS) in support of IBD, Carly is an inspiration to those around her.
    Krystal Maher - Dalhousie University
    krystal-maher.jpgKrystal is a second year Neuroscience major at Dalhousie University in Halifax, who has been living with Crohn’s disease since she was eight years old. Spending months in and out of hospital, trying different medications and feeding tubes, her only option was to undergo a serious surgery. At the age of only nine, Krystal had a total colectomy resulting in an ileostomy. 

    Living in the small town of Sydney, it was difficult for Krystal to find someone who could help her understand what she was experiencing. Over and above her feelings of isolation, she was also bullied endlessly by her peers. Discovering Camp Canada, a camp organized for kids who were living with IBD, provided her with the confidence and courage to speak out about her illness and educate others. Krystal now plays an incredibly active part informing her community, participating in fundraising initiatives with CCFC and mentoring kids at the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital who are struggling with IBD. Krystal also created an online community (http://reddit.com/r/ostomy) where people can ask questions and receive ostomy support. Krystal is an inspiration to her family and friends and has never let anything or anyone stop her from reaching her goals.
    John McCann - Western University
    john-mccann.jpgClaiming the status of being an IBD veteran, John has lived nearly three decades with Crohn’s disease. He has learned to develop a variety of strategies for achieving his personal and academic goals. These strategies, however, have not been easy. Crohn’s disease has had devastating effects on his body, mind, and soul. Over the years the debilitating symptoms have caused delays in his academic pursuits and required that he take extended time off from his career. Regardless of these challenges, John has always been able to regain his health, persevere and reach his goals, which include obtaining three university degrees. Outside of the classroom, John has been highly involved with CCFC, participating in local chapter events and initiatives. While he has had a wonderful career working as a Special Education teacher, his devastating personal and family health experiences have inspired him to make a career change. He has recently decided to become a Registered Nurse so that he can give to others, as they have given to him. John will be pursuing his studies at Western University in London in the BScN program.
    Clinton Shard - Capilano University
    clinton-shard.jpgClinton is a second year Business student attending Capilano University. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 12 and has faced the challenge of overcoming the many obstacles that living with a chronic illness presents. The severity of his illness caused him to miss school significantly, spending weeks and even months at a time in hospital. No matter how much school Clinton missed, he was still determined to keep up with his studies and maintain an A average so that he could reach his goal of attending university. 

    When he was 16 years old, Clinton decided that he wanted to not only show himself that anything is possible, but to show others who struggle with IBD as well. Joining the Intestinal Disease Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS), Clinton successfully reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free standing mountain in the world. Clinton is now an ambassador for IBD, helping to reduce the stigma associated with digestive disease by raising awareness within his own community as well as on a global platform. Clinton uses his own personal experiences to assist others living with IBD and lives each day demonstrating that “IBD can’t stop him” from living life to the fullest.
    Phillipe Tremblay -  Universite de Sherbrooke
    phillipe-tremblay.jpgPhilippe is a second year student working towards a Masters degree in Engineering from Université de Sherbrooke. He has aspirations of continuing to live a healthy, active lifestyle and refuses to let Crohn’s disease control his life. Diagnosed in 2004, Philippe’s illness forced him to go through three severe outbreaks and medication changes, as well as one surgical intervention over the early diagnosis years, forcing him to cancel a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa experience. Despite that, Philippe decided to enter the Engineering undergraduate program in 2007, a major challenge for him, and he successfully managed a heavy workload and obtained high marks, which led him to start his Masters in Hydraulics Engineering, a true passion for Philippe. In order to maintain a good quality of life, Philippe became more physically active, which helped him manage his symptoms. He discovered cross country cycling, allowing him to push his limits. In addition to his academic and sports achievements, Philippe is also a music lover, and this passion has led him to become a DJ, participating in several university events over the last few years. Philippe is a driven individual, has never asked for any special treatments and is not the type of person to let anything discourage him. He is an excellent role model and example to everyone around him.
    Christopher Whelan - Mount Royal University
    chris-whelan.jpgChristopher is a fourth year student who is working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Mount Royal University. He has aspirations of joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and refuses to let his colitis control his life. Diagnosed at the age of 14, Christopher’s illness has challenged his studies, relationships, extra-curricular activities and all other aspects of his life that are important to him. For his first two years of university, he was constantly wracked with colon pain and flare-ups and he continues to cope with agonizing symptoms. A new exercise and nutrition program, along with new medication has helped Christopher better manage his IBD, despite his escalating disease progression. Christopher’s colitis is a very real and significant part of his everyday life, but he refuses to let it stand in the way of reaching his goals.

    Over and above Christopher’s educational career, he participates in various fundraising activities, helping to raise more than $28,000 for CCFC in support of IBD research. Christopher has never asked for any special treatments and is not the type of person to let anything discourage him. He is an excellent role model and example to everyone around him.

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 150 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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