A centenarian is among those taking steps across Canada, to support people living with Crohn’s disease and colitis.
Mary Foote plans to stroll through Campbell Valley Regional Park during this Sunday’s Gutsy Walk.
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s largest single-day fundraiser, Gutsy Walks are taking place in 60 sites across the nation June 5.
In Langley, the fundraiser is called the Fraser Valley West Gutsy Walk and is entering its 21st year.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with a warm-up to follow at 10:15 a.m. at the Old Orchard picnic ground at the park.
The walk itself starts at 10:30 a.m.
The goal is to raise $3.5 million nationally, $315,000 regionally, and locally in Langley, $83,000 in support of people who suffer from these disorders, which cause the intestines to become inflamed and ulcerated. This is caused by an abnormal response to the body’s immune system.
At 100, Mary is the oldest participant in Canada and this will be her second year participating in the Gutsy Walk.
She will be walking as part of Team TP, the family team started by her granddaughter, Krista Olson, who is also the co-chair of the Langley fundraiser.
Krista was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2010 and Mary’s mother was diagnosed with the same disease at age 90.
“I only have one granddaughter and she’s very precious to me,” Mary said. “I’d like to see them get a cure for her.”
Mary said she’s quite active and already does a shorter version of the walk, but for Krista, “just being there is the big thing.”
Krista shared her experience living with the disease.
“It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster, up and down, but I’m on a drug HUMIRA which is seeming to help very well,” Krista said. “I also believe in holistic practices so I see a nutritionist, a naturopath, and I have acupuncture [done].”
Not only is Mary the oldest walker in Canada, but her family are also able to boast about having four generations involved: Mary, daughter Edith, granddaughter Krista, and great granddaughter Amy will walk together at Campbell Valley Regional Park.
Crohn’s and colitis affects all ages, which is the reason why Ronan Osachoff is this year’s Fraser Valley West honorary chair.
Ronan a 14-year-old, Grade 9 student, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of six.
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He goes to BC Children’s Hospital for medication infusions as well as having to take another immune suppressant drug orally.
Ronan is this year’s honorary chair of the Fraser Valley West Gutsy Walk,
Fraser Valley Gutsy Walk co-chair Deb Dolton said Canadians have good reason to be concerned about Crohn’s and colitis – that’s because one in every 150 Canadians live with these life-altering diseases, among the highest rates worldwide.
Most alarming, she added, is that Canadian children under the age of 10 are the fastest growing demographic in the world being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
Proceeds from Gutsy Walks fuel research and improve the lives of the nearly 250,000 Canadians impacted by Crohn’s and colitis.
Deb is one among them. In 2004, at the age of 50, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Her husband Brian has ulcerative colitis, and their 26-year-old daughter, Kelsey Waite, was diagnosed with Crohn’s when she was 18.
Walk grows in Langley
The Doltons have been involved with the fundraiser since 2009 and Deb chaired the local event in 2012 and ’13. In 2014 Deb took a break from that position before grabbing the reins again last year.
This year, she has help with Krista.
“She’s been great and we work really well together,” Deb said.
The Langley fundraiser has grown substantially, from 25 people in 2011 to roughly 250 last year, when $63,000 was raised for the cause.
You can also simply show up and take part in the walk, and also donate on site.
There is no registration fee.