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Moncton Gutsy Walk aims to raise awareness, money and a sense of community

Dressed in red and gathered together as a community, everyone at Moncton’s annual “Gutsy Walk” had been touched by Crohn’s and Colitis in some way.

“[The] IWK practically saved my life in January, told me I had Crohn’s and how to treat it,” said 14-year-old Zoe Allian, who explained that she started getting really sick shortly after her 14th birthday.

“It’s been better, but it was a long process, to be honest,” she said.

While officials call it an invisible disease, it impacts a lot of people in a lot of different ways.

“In Atlantic Canada, we’re seeing about one person in 100 people, which is the highest rate among the world,” said Véronique Gaudet, Moncton Gutsy Walk local honorary chair.

“Crohn’s and Colitis are two different types of bowel disease, so it’s basically inflammation. People can get lots of pain, and some people have severe disease that can lead to disability or needing surgeries or colostomy bags and things like that, and so it’s a pretty severe illness in terms of quality of life.”

On Sunday, people across Canada walked to raise money for research and patient support programs. Money raised across the country gets added together and put towards resources that will benefit everyone living with the disease.

“There’s only so many treatment options available and one thing that a lot of people don’t know is once you fail a treatment, you can’t ever go back to that treatment,” said Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Moncton Chapter president Mandi Lawson.

“There’s only so many medications that are approved and we need more. We need more treatment options so that people can be feeling well because eventually you get through all of them and you’re at the end of your rope.”

While Monctonians walked alongside other Canadians on Sunday, the local event was also used to find strength in each other.

“My son has Crohn’s disease. He’s 15 now but when he was first diagnosed, he actually had a feeding tube,” said Lawson.

“All of the nurses and all of the doctors in the world could tell me how to put a feeding tube in, how to clean a feeding tube, but no one could tell me how to live with a feeding tube – only another mom, who had been on this journey and knew how to deal with it at school, how to deal with it in the middle of the night, how to deal with the bathroom trips… so you need other people who have been on this journey because they understand what it’s like to live in a way that medical professionals don’t.”

The event saw people walk together and share personal stories of strength and inspiration.

“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 13-years-old and I think through my journey of the diagnosis and going through the illness I developed a lot of resilience and wanting to push for helping people and that’s why I applied to med school and I just recently graduated,” said Gaudet.

She says she plans to stay in Atlantic Canada and is going into internal medicine.

While only 20 team leaders registered, around 75 people showed up in support and solidarity on Sunday.

“I found a lot of inspiration in the community and in talking to people and to sharing my story as well, so I find it important to be able to host an event like this and to be a voice for the community as well,” said Gaudet.

The goal in Moncton was to raise $18,000 and to build a community around people living with Crohn’s and Colitis.

“I think it’s great for the people here to meet other people and make new friends that have the same thing as them,” said Allain.

“We’re not different than other people. I mean, everyone is different in their way and this is not a reason to single us out.”

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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