Community Magazine Charities - Spring 2017

A Better Life

Liz Edelstein 2017-04-27 12:15:37

CCF is committed to improving the lives of those affected by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are inflammatory bowel diseases that cause chronic inflammation and damage in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The mission of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. To learn more about our organization and the programs mentioned here, visit The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding cures for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and improving the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. These are chronic autoimmune diseases that affect an estimated 1.6 million Americans. CCF was founded in 1967 and now serves more than 600,000 patients annually through 40 chapters and national education and support programs. CCF has long been a leader in inflammatory bowel disease research and has funded more than $283 million in vital research worldwide, including more than $30 million in 2016 alone. CCF is proud to have played a role in every major breakthrough in the treatment and understanding of IBD. In addition to funding research toward cures, CCF is committed to improving the lives of patients through education and support programming. This often isolating and challenging disease can be most difficult to deal with as a child. There are approximately 80,000 children living with IBD in the U.S. More than a decade ago, CCF established a summer camp just for this population. Camp Oasis, a co-ed, residential summer camp program, enriches the lives of children with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis by providing them a safe and supportive community. Camp is a transformative program for campers and counselors. For some, it is the first time they meet someone else with IBD. We asked one of our strongest supporters, a remarkable young woman named Amelia Brause, to share what camp means to her: "It’s hard to believe that a six-day camp for kids with IBD can change your life, but it most certainly changed mine. Almost 15 years ago, at the age of 10, my parents put me on a bus, and I attended CCF’s Camp Oasis for the first time. I cried the whole bus ride there because I didn’t want to go, and cried the whole bus ride home, because I didn’t want to leave. It is not easy to put the impact of CCF’s Camp Oasis into words. Every time I am asked to do so I get emotional about it. There are two words I would use to describe it: life changing. IBD can be isolating; embarrassing and mentally, physically and emotionally consuming. It is scary and unpredictable. No matter how hard you try to escape it, it always finds a way to remind you it’s not going away. At camp, kids get to meet others like them. They don’t have to be afraid to use the bathroom, bond with others who take the same medications as them and, most importantly, just have fun. They learn that they are not alone and that there are others going through the same thing. The best part of Camp Oasis is that no one has to speak about IBD if they don’t want to, because there is an unspoken bond that ties the camp together. Now, almost 25, I refuse to miss a summer. As I transitioned from camper to counselor, I am invested in the impact this camp has on all who attend. It’s an outlet for kids and counselors alike to learn that they don’t have to let IBD control them. It instills confidence in people to know that, although IBD is a part of who we are, it only makes us stronger and provides greater perspective on life. I’ve watched campers teach each other about ostomies, hold hands while they get injections and make more bathroom jokes than one could ever imagine. It is these moments that make children realize this disease is not the end of the world, but just a little bump in the road. Attending camp 15 years ago created a fire inside of me to raise awareness and be a part of the fight for a cure with CCF. I’ve attended countless educational events, fundraised for walks, half marathons, and ran my first marathon for CCF through Team Challenge. I’ve brought my friends together to Spin4 Crohn’s & Colitis Cures. I am part of an Associate Board for young adults living with IBD in Chicago and dedicated time in college to be on CCF’s Youth Council. The people I’ve met through CCF are inspiring. To me, CCF is not just an advocacy organization. It’s a family. I plan to continue my involvement with CCF until the day we have a cure."

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