Raising awareness of digestive disorders

As a father to a daughter who battles Crohn’s Disease, Tom Pierce of Highland Village decided the best way to join the fight was as a volunteer with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

“One in 200 Americans has Crohn’s or colitis, and my daughter [Zoey, 19] is one of them,” Pierce said. “I’ve met students at local high schools who suffer from weight loss, fatigue and miss a lot of school, while some even require surgery.”

Both diseases are relatively unknown and Pierce said a lot of people may not know they have it and have been dealing with symptoms for years. However, statistics show it’s more common than most people think.

In the case of Crohn’s, the disease is more prevalent among adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15 and 35.

His daughter Zoey, a freshman at Texas A&M University, takes injections every two weeks and is doing very well.

To raise awareness of the diseases and provide funding for research and treatment options, the CCFA funnels approximately 82-cents of every donated dollar into research and programs, such as counseling, for people afflicted with Crohn’s or colitis. Volunteers like Pierce complement those efforts by reaching out to inform the public.

Although Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis affect different locations of the digestive tract, they are closely aligned in that both are inflammatory bowel diseases with a variety of similar symptoms.

“That’s why we volunteer; to bring awareness to people and get them talking about it,” Pierce said. “I’ve met too many young people who suffer from this, and it’s common for some of them to have to take upper and lower GI [tract] tests, undergo colonoscopies or have to carry a colostomy bag.”

As part of his volunteer work, Pierce serves as a member of Team Challenge, an endurance program run by the CCFA which trains people to run half-marathons as a fundraiser vehicle. On the local scene, the North Texas chapter has between 40 to 50 volunteers involved in Team Challenge and working toward a common goal.

“We have a target, starting in March and ending in July, to raise $120,000 for awareness and research to find a cure,” Pierce said. “Finding a cure is close and funding is needed to get to finish line. Hopefully, within the next five years, patients should be able to get better treatment.”

That’s good news, especially for younger people battling symptoms.

“A lot of young people have hope that there will be a cure in their lifetime, because of the progress that’s been made,” Pierce said. 

In addition to the North Texas chapter’s efforts, Pierce is hosting a golf scramble June 13 at the Bridlewood Golf Club in Flower Mound. It’s an event which his entire family is working to arrange.

“We’ve got a sponsor and we’re really pushing for golfers to participate,” Pierce said.

To find out additional details or participate in the golf scramble, please visit www.tompierce22.com.

To learn more about the CCFA, visit www.ccfa.org  and Team Challenge North Texas, at www.ccteamchallenge.org/Chapters/northtexas.htm.


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