Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can be a debilitating condition. It causes extreme discomfort, a number of health complications, and can greatly reduce one’s quality of life. A college student diagnosed with Crohn’s disease has chosen to take control of her disease, and serve as a source of information and inspiration to others.
Texas A&M communication senior Bridget Riley was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease 5 years ago. Since then, she has been an active member of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) North Texas chapter, helping raise funds and awareness for research on this type of IBD.
Because of her dedication to her advocacy, her hometown of Tyler named her 2014’s “Honored Hero.” This award goes to individuals whose story serves as an inspiration to others.
“I feel like a big part of my story has been finding joy and success despite the difficulties … My faith has been a really big part of my journey with Crohn’s,” she said. “In a weird way Crohn’s has been a huge blessing in my life because it has taught me that I can be strong. I can have joy even in the midst of the pain of Crohn’s.”
According to Dr. Narendra Kumar, an associate professor at the university who specializes in Crohn’s disease research, the CCFA has been a leader in IBD research for nearly 40 years. It is composed of over 50,000 members and works closely with institutions from all over the globe. At present, the foundation and the National Institutes of Health are actively funding 80 novel treatments, still in the works.
The CCFA’s “Take Steps” for Crohn’s and Colitis program is an advocacy walk that aims to raise funds for people living with these conditions. Riley will be joining the October leg of the program with a mission to raise $500 for every year she has had her condition. Out of her goal of $2,500, she has already raised $1,785.
The Take Steps Walk is scheduled on Saturday, October 4 at 3:30 p.m., and will begin at Bergfeld Park on 1510 South College Avenue, Tyler, Texas. Participants can support the cause by joining the walk by yourself or as a team, donating, sponsoring, or helping out during the event. For more information, you may contact Al James through (972) 386-0607 Ext 5 or via email at [email protected].