Stepping Up for World IBD Day

Stepping Up for World IBD Day

Tuesday was World IBD Day. The European Federation of Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis Associations (EFCCA) first recognized May 19 as a day to raise awareness and support IBD patients globally in 2010. Today, more than 50 countries across five continents participate in advocating for IBD research and awareness.

In the U.S., the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation is the EFCCA’s sister organization. Each year, local chapters across the nation participate in the foundation’s largest fundraiser, Take Steps.

I’ve wanted to participate in the Austin Take Steps event since 2016, when I became an active advocate for my autoimmune diseases and healthcare in general. Unfortunately, over the past three years, the Central Texas chapter has held the event the weekend my husband and I leave for our traditional anniversary road trip along the Gulf Coast.

The event also coincides with the Preakness, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. My husband, a horse racing enthusiast, likes to “bet on the ponies.” So, even if we’re in town, we have to drive an hour or two to the nearest horse racing track to place bets, because Texas prohibits online gambling.

Regardless of the bad timing, after taking part in February in the Colon Cancer Coalition’s Get Your Rear in Gear — our first 5K — I was determined more than ever to sign up for a Take Steps event this year, even if it meant finding a walk wherever we were on vacation. Then, with COVID-19 shuttering most of the nation, not only did we have to quash our vacation plans, but also the Central Texas chapter canceled the Austin Take Steps event.

The good news is that like most of our day-to-day lives, Take Steps is going virtual. The Central Texas chapter rescheduled the event for June 20. Other chapters that canceled will also participate in the virtual walk that day.

As soon as I learned of the new date, I registered my husband and me. With our fundraising effort underway, I’ve looked for other ways to celebrate World IBD Day and #StepUp4IBD. I haven’t left my house much since March, so most of my options are limited to the digital world.

I created an infographic of my IBD journey and shared it on Facebook. Then, I signed a petition asking Congress to reform step therapy for IBD patients. I also invited friends and family to a virtual bingo night hosted by the Central Texas chapter on May 28.

Emmeline Olson's IBD Journey
Emmeline’s journey with IBD. (Graphic by Emmeline Olson)

I looked for creative ways to use the #StepUp4IBD and #WorldIBDDay hashtags. After becoming frustrated by Austin’s reopening and a decision to rescind the public mask mandate, I channeled my rage into humorous — yet slightly warped — musings.

For instance, if I have to go out in public and encounter someone without a mask, my solution is to pass gas. IBD-fueled flatulence is potent enough to force someone to cover their nose and mouth and run the other direction!

I have a month to find a walking route for the virtual Take Steps. I’m still wary about walking around our neighborhood or on the park trail nearby. I’ve spent the past two months watching neighbors walk, run, and ride their bikes by our house without wearing masks or social distancing. I fear this will get worse when Texas lifts even more restrictions by May 31.

Even if I wear a mask, I don’t want to take the chance of walking through an infected person’s slipstream, the microscopic droplets that remain in the air when someone exhales while exercising. If necessary, I’ll walk around my living room like I’ve been doing for an hour every Saturday and Sunday since self-isolating.

With the high temperatures already hitting the upper 90s here in Texas, it might be in the triple digits by June 20. I don’t mind pacing back and forth as long as I’m in air conditioning.

The IBD community may have had to celebrate World IBD Day and Take Steps apart this year, but the circumstances have brought us closer together.


Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.

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